Deaf Seattle Baristas Sue Starbucks for Discrimination

Deaf Seattle Baristas Sue Starbucks for Discrimination

New manager instructed one to “be more talkative.”

On a corporate level, Starbucks has worked to build a reputation for being friendly to the deaf community.

The company often shares the news when baristas sign with customers in American Sign Language, and it also opened its first Signing Store in Washington, D.C. last fall.

And at first, when Larissa Towns and Ashley Maier felt valued by their manager, KIRO TV reports.

Ashley started working at the Starbucks located near the Emergency Room inside Seattle Children’s Hospital in February 2017, and Larissa was hired three months later. In May 2017 their manager posted on the store’s Facebook page that it “has been a positive experience for the employees and patients at the hospital to have two partners who can use American Sign Language.”

Customers “were so thrilled when they saw us and that we actually signed with them,” Maier recently told KIRO 7.

But when a new manager came in, things changed for the deaf employees. Both had their hours cut drastically and Larissa was eventually fired. Now both have filed a lawsuit alleging discrimination on the basis of their disability.

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