Philadelphia Employment Law News

McCormick & Schmick's Settles Disability Lawsuit

It's illegal for businesses to discriminate against someone who is disabled. Sometimes, disabilities are less obvious, such as mental disabilities. In other cases, the disabilities are obvious.

So why would an employer or a manager blatantly discriminate against a deaf person?

That's a question that the management at McCormick & Schmick's, owned by Landry's Inc., will certainly be asking, following a finding of discrimination by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

A manager at a Maryland branch of the McCormick & Schmick's chain allegedly discriminated against a deaf chef, the EEOC said in a press release.

According to the EEOC, the manager routinely called the employee "vermin" even though his name was Vernon. The employee was also subject to threatening physical conduct and was subsequently demoted to a dishwasher position as a result of his disability.

Not only did the employee complain about the disability discrimination, but other employees noticed as well. Other employees complained and after that complaint, he was demoted even further to a janitorial role.

What's egregious here is not only that a man with a visible disability was discriminated against, but also that he was retaliated against after he complained.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibits employers from treating an employee in a harassing manner because of his disability. The ADA also provides for prohibition against retaliation if the employee complains.

McCormick & Schmick's must now pay $47,814 in damages to the employee, Baltimore's WMAR-TV reports. The restaurant must also sign a two-year consent decree which forbids it from violating the ADA and obligates the company to give ADA training to supervisory and managerial employees at the National Harbor location.

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