Yesterday I learned from Little People of America’s Facebook page that Starbucks had reached a $75,000 settlement with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on behalf of a woman who was fired during training because of her dwarfism.
The Starbucks was located in El Paso, Texas. According to the El Paso Times, the woman, Elsa Sallard, was denied her request to use a stool or a stepladder, and was fired on the alleged grounds that she would pose a “danger” to others.
What made me curious was the low amount of the settlement. So I went back and saw that the folks at Starbucks corporate headquarters, to their credit, took this seriously from the moment they learned about it. In May, Starbucks spokeswoman Stacey Krum said the company had “zero tolerance” for discrimination, adding, “We definitely want to make clear how seriously we take the concerns that have been raised in the lawsuit.”
According to a statement by Robert Canino, a lawyer with the EEOC:
Starbucks’ swift action to work constructively with the EEOC in this case, not only by compensating the applicant who was turned away, but by committing to additional training for other stores in the El Paso area, sends the right signal from the corporate office. The Starbucks customer environment is one that is often considered comfortable and progressive. By fostering that same environment for people behind the counter, Starbucks reinforces a positive public image.
In this case it looks like doing the right thing also saved Starbucks a lot of money.