When it comes to disabilities, don’t make assumptions

Starbucks was recently reminded of this critical rule when it failed to even consider an accommodation for a job applicant.  The applicant wanted a barista job (the latte-makers behind the counter).  She had dwarfism and was thus very short.  She suggested she could do the job using a stool.  The interviewing manager, however, did not take her seriously and moved on to the next applicant.  When the EEOC got involved Starbucks claimed the applicant would pose a danger to customers and employees.  The EEOC proceeded to file an ADA lawsuit.  Starbucks, apparently seeing the error of its ways, quickly settled the suit and agreed to provide training on ADA procedures.

Assumptions about people’s disabilities will always get you into legal trouble.  Not to mention, they are just that – assumptions.  For all Starbucks knew, the applicant could have been the best cappuccino-creator it ever met.  One more point: supervisory employees typically do not know all the intricacies of the ADA.  Don’t expect them to.  Instead, educate them.

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