May 17, 2011 / 6:45 PM / in 7 years

U.S. sues Starbucks for firing dwarf from barista job

AUSTIN, Tex (Reuters Life!) - The U.S. government is suing Starbucks Coffee Company for firing a barista in El Paso because she is a dwarf.

<p>Customers are seen at a Starbucks coffee store which displays their old logo in Paris March 8, 2011. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau</p>

When the employee asked for a stool or small stepladder to perform her job, Starbucks denied the request and fired her that same day, claiming that she could be a danger to customers and workers, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The commission, which filed the lawsuit on Monday, said that Starbucks violated federal law by denying a reasonable accommodation to the employee, who was hired in July 2009 and was fired after three days of training.

“Starbucks has become a virtual icon of modern American culture, appealing to an incredibly diverse customer base,” Robert Canino, a commission lawyer in Dallas, said in a statement. “We’d hope that when considering hiring a person with a disability, Starbucks would choose to enhance its brand with the mark of equal opportunity and access.”

Starbucks did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

Reporting by Corrie MacLaggan; Editing by Greg McCune

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