Texas Wendy's Franchise Settles ADA Discrimination Suit

A company that owns several Wendy's franchises in Texas has recently reached a settlement agreement with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission over disability discrimination allegations made by a prospective employee.

The individual who initially filed the complaint with the EEOC said that he applied for a cooker position at a Killeen, Texas Wendy's restaurant. He successfully interviewed with the shift manager and was passed on to the next round for an interview with the general manager. That interview was conducted over a telephone system for the hearing-impaired to accommodate the applicant's hearing disability. During that conversation, the general manager allegedly told the applicant that they did not have a position "for someone we cannot communicate with."

The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits employers from discriminating against someone with a hearing impairment and requires employers to attempt to make a reasonable accommodation if necessary. In this situation, it is not clear whether having a hearing impairment would prevent the applicant from being able to safely perform the essential duties of the job or if a reasonable accommodation would enable him to complete the job duties. However, the settlement with the EEOC suggests that the employer was wrong to disqualify him from the position on the basis of a hearing impairment.

In addition to paying the applicant $41,500 in lost wages, the franchise will also be increasing ADA compliance training for managers and supervisory employees. These types of stipulations are common in EEOC settlements and are designed to prevent the same type of discrimination from happening again or becoming systemic.

Source: Business Insurance, "Wendy's franchisee settles ADA charges brought by EEOC," Mike Tsikoudakis, Oct. 11, 2012.