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Behavior Around Disabled Employees

This should be obvious to franchisees, but do not act or allow employees to act, point out, or otherwise draw unnecessary attention to an employee’s disability. As the below Subway franchisee discovered, it cost him $166k in court awards plus (I’m guessing here) another $75,000 in legal fees.

Subway Franchise to Pay $166,500 for Disability Bias, Jury Rules in EEOC Lawsuit

The Dallas jury of five women and two men awarded former area supervisor Tammy Gitsham $66,500 for lost wages and emotional harm and an additional $100,000 in punitive damages in the EEOC’s suit under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. The EEOC charged in the case that Subway Owner Robert Suarez and one of his managers subjected Gitsham to a disability-based hostile work environment, including teasing and name-calling, because she is hearing impaired and wears hearing aids.

EEOC presented evidence that Gitsham was forced to resign her position after both the owner and human resources/training manager repeatedly mocked her privately and in front of other employees, creating a hostile workplace, with taunts such as: “Read My Lips” and “Can you hear me now?” and “You got your ears on?”

About Ryan Knoll

Attorney and advisor with an interest in franchising. Feel free to email me comments and questions on the "Contact Us" page.

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