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McCormick & Schmick's employee wins disability discrimination lawsuit

Nearly everyone in Indianapolis is familiar with the popular restaurant chain McCormick & Schmick's. Generally regarded as an upscale restaurant with exceedingly high standards for employee decorum, a recent lawsuit out of Maryland may change this perception and show people nationwide that even upscale restaurants are not immune to employment law violations.

Readers of our blog are familiar with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 which prevents employers from discriminating against employees because of their disability. This includes supervisors and management alike, but according to an employee at a McCormick & Schmick's National Harbor restaurant, not only was he discriminated against because of his disability, he was also retaliated against and fired because of it as well.

The man, who has been deaf since childhood and uses sign language and lip reading to communicate, worked for the seafood restaurant as a food-prep cook. On multiple occasions he was subjected to insulting remarks and threatening physical conduct by a former management official. Without warning, and despite performing his duties satisfactorily, his prep-cook duties were removed and he was transferred to a dishwasher position.

After he and several other employees complained about him being subjected to disability discrimination, he was again demoted to a janitorial-type position and had his hours cut as well. Four months later, he was wrongfully discharged because of his disability, says the complaint.

A court judge awarded the man $47,814 in monetary relief after filing a lawsuit with the EEOC against the restaurant. McCormick & Schmick is now required to provide training on the ADA to all supervisory and managerial employees at the restaurant, and must expand its company-wide anti-harassment, anti-discrimination and anti-retaliation policies.

Source: Eeoc.gov, "McCormick & Schmick's to pay $47,814 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Lawsuit," Press Release, Jan. 7, 2013

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