Chick-fil-A has been hit with yet another discrimination lawsuit, this time by an Oakland Park, Illinois man with autism.
James Kwon’s lawsuit claims that he applied at the fast food chain along with his job coach in mid-2014. Kwon, 25, had previous food service experience from a nearby restaurant. The manager of the branch of the popular chicken food chain was not in attendance during Kwon’s initial application, but his job coach followed up and told them that Kwon had been a good worker at his previous place of employment.
The lawsuit, filed Dec. 23 with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division claims:
‘The branch manager responded that Chick-fil-A was not interested in hiring people with disabilities. When the job coach reiterated that she thought James would do a good job, the branch manager stated that people with disabilities would not be able to succeed at Chick-fil-A.’
Kwon’s lawyer, Jin-Ho Chung of disability activists Equip for Equality states that Chick-fil-A violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), when managers refused to perform an individualized assessment of whether Kwon was capable of performing the job. The ADA also requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for disabled workers; Chung states that Chick-fil-A failed to examine those options.
As reported by Fox News, Kwon worked at another restaurant in 2013 as part of a work study program, where his duties included cleaning. The lawsuit claims that Kwon’s supervisor stated that “James performed his job duties diligently and capably,” and that his job there ended only because the work study program was over.
After the program ended, Kwon went to the Chick-fil-A to apply, but was not able to complete the application because of the branch manager’s statement, according to the lawsuit.
Chick-fil-A has been fighting a long-standing public relations battle because of discriminatory hiring practices.
According to a 2007 article in Forbes magazine, the company had been sued at least 12 times for employment discrimination since 1988 — and that was 10 years ago.
One former manager, a Muslim named Aziz Latif, sued the business in 2002 because he was fired the day after he declined to participate in a group prayer to Jesus at a company training program. Chick-fil-A settled the suit out of court.
According to The Huffington Post, former Chick-fil-A employee Brenda Honeycutt sued the company for gender discrimination in 2012 after being fired from a Duluth, Georgia, location by operator Jeff Howard. The reason he gave for letting her go was so she could be a “stay at home mother.” Honeycutt was replaced by a male employee.
Chick fil-A is known for the Christian religious influence that plays in its policies. All locations of the restaurant are closed on Sundays, and the corporation has unashamedly denounced marriage equality and LGBT rights. This stand has led to boycotts, as well as official statements saying that the company now will not longer be participating or lending funds to any more anti-gay groups in order to improve its PR.
However, millions of Americans suffer from invisible disabilities, while still being able to lead full, productive lives working to earn their own way in the world. The Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law by President George H. W. Bush for just this purpose — to allow those who struggle with disabilities to enjoy the dignity of work and self reliance.
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