A deaf prep cook was harassed and demoted by a McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurant because of his disability and as a retaliation for his complaints about his mistreatment, the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has charged in a lawsuit.
According to the lawsuit, Vernon Davis has been profoundly deaf since he was a young boy and had performed satisfactorily since his hire as a prep cook in May 2008. Beginning in May 2009 up until his termination, Davis was mocked, had boxes kicked at him, and was called “vermin” instead of Vernon. After he complained about the discriminatory treatment, the restaurant demoted him from his prep cook position to dishwasher, and from dishwasher to utility person, while cutting his work hours. Finally, the EEOC said, Davis was fired as retaliation.
The alleged conduct of the restaurant violates the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, seeks lost wages as well as compensatory and punitive damages. It also seeks injunctive relief to prevent discrimination from recurring.
In a press release, EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence stated, “People with hearing impairments can perform successfully on the job and should not be denied opportunities because of stereotypical assumptions. Some employers assume incorrectly that these workers will have difficulty communicating in fast-paced environments, when in reality, they can be very effective workers.”
In fiscal year 2010, private-sector workplace discrimination charge filings with the EEOC hit an unprecedented level of 99,922, which included a record-high 25,165 disability charges. That is an increase of 17.3 percent in disability charges over the prior fiscal year.