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May 17, 2011


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I think the hiring itself shouldn't have happened. The need for a stool should have been something discussed before any hiring was done. Nothing against little people, I think starbucks is to blame for the mess however. But I agree a stool is a huge hazard.

Legendarily Lean

The story just hit the Drudge report. Baristas, expect comment from your cusomers tomorrow.


I feel for the dwarf and as a particularly short (not quite dwarf) person, I've often wished for a stool. Having said that, I've never seriously considered it because baristas would be tripping and falling all over the place. We move too fast and too often to put obstacles in our way.


The blog title is sort of misleading, or at least doesn't convey the seriousness of the suit. I think it gives the impression that the former barista herself filed the suit, which is not what the link says. An individual suing Starbucks is not an issue. I can sue Starbucks right now for firing me for being a dwarf. I'm not even a dwarf. The lawsuit would be thrown out, but I could do it.

That is not the case with this story. It's not just an individual filing a suit that may or may not have any merit whatsoever. The US Government is filing suit on behalf of this individual. That means that she has brought her suit to the EEOC and they have found probable cause (meaning there is a lot of evidence in favor of her case) to file the lawsuit. So keep in mind, the EEOC, which probably has a budget it has to stick to, and therefore can only pursue pretty solid cases, thinks this woman meets the standards they want to see before putting money into a lawsuit.


When a woman poses for Playboy and does the photo shoot and then they don't print it because she's doesn't photograph as well as they like, can she sue?
If you get hired out of college to do a job but they fire you a month later because you aren't quite as smart as they thought, can you sue because God didn't give you a genius brain?
The mistake Starbucks made was giving her an opportunity to try.

Jim  Romenesko

>>> gives the impression that the former barista herself filed the suit.

Aaron, Did you even read this? The first line of my summary says the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission filed the lawsuit. Could I make it any more clear for you?


The suit says that the request for a stool was a "reasonable" request.
I disagree. I think it is totally unreasonable.


My 'Bux is so small, there's no way we'd have room for a stool. We're already bumping into each other and tripping over each other all day. This would be a workers' comp case waiting to happen.


Our store has a little foldup stepladder. We use it all the time to reach things on high shelves. I have no doubt that Starbucks violated the law when firing this girl. There are plenty of duties she could perform, such as cleaning, stocking, sanitizing dishes, etc., that do not require a stepladder or stool. Furthermore, if she was in a fixed location at a till, with her own stool, she would function perfectly well. She could also work during less busy hours. There are many easy things Starbucks could do to accommodate her. Starbucks has on many occasions fired partners with disabilities. This is another one. Starbucks should be ashamed.


Meh...I don't think dwarfs are considered disabled under the ADA. So, I don't see this going too far. She shouldn't have been hired; she can't perform the duties required of the job.


The issue would be to prove that a stool is an unreasonable accommodation--which it is in this job--but which may be difficult because it doesn't *sound* like it is.


@a, you may not "think that dwarfs are considered disabled under the ADA" but you are wrong.


Jim, yes I did rtfa. Did you, because YOUR title says "barista says etc". It's not JUST her saying so. The EEOC is backing her up. YOUR title is biased and was worded to make it seem like it's just another frivolous starbucks lawsuit, when it's not.


But she was there only 3 days--it's training. It didn't work out. A stepstool behind the counter is a hazard to everyone else. Not everyone gets to do everything.


Are they really considered disabled under ADA? God, that Act is retarded. A very good-intentioned idea gone wrong.

Coffee Soldier

So if I am overweight and we bump into one another because there is not enough space I am going to sue to make the are behind the counter bigger since it is a disability....this is ridiculous...I wouldn't try to get a job working in a crawl space I didn't fit inside it...why would a dwarf get a job that their face only went up the the counter...why would someone have hired this person to begin with if they could not perform the job duties?


Clearly she shouldn't have been hired. To the partner that said there are plenty of things she could do in a store which wouldn't require a stool. I guess it depends on the store. Not so in our store. We have way too many 2 person deployment shifts. If she always had the 3 person or more deployment shifts, that wouldn't be fair to other partners.
Honestly, in my store, it would cause tripping; perhaps injuries.


I agree, the person doing the hiring should not have given the oppurtunity. I understand it sounds harsh and even I would feel bad, but there are requirements to working, including moving, lifting and reaching. I worked at Tim Hortons previously with a dwarf and honestly he was the hardest worker I'd ever seen and was an awesome person to be around. He applied for a job that he knew he could handle and was realistic about it.

Sometimes people are just not going to work out. Would you hire someone who speaks three words of the language needed to work? Probably not. Complete downer, but its a requirement.



If a dwarf can work at Tim Hortons, a dwarf can work at Starbucks.


@drive - The only problem is Starbucks doesn't hire people to just wash dishes, or just ring customers. You are expected to learn every single position in the store and be able to do all of those positions each and every day. She wouldn't be able to just stand there and ring customers standing on her stool - she would be required to brew coffee, get coffee for customers, do breakfast sandwiches, get pastries out of the case, go out into the lobby and clean the condiment bar, etc., etc. The stool would definitely create a hazard not for the other baristas, but for the person mentioned in the article. Can you imagine climbing down off of a stool to get a cup of coffee, and then climbing back up on the the stool with a 200 degree Venti cup of coffee and doing that 15 times in a row within 5 minutes or less? I'm sorry she lost her job but Starbucks just isn't for her...reasonable accomodations can be made but not if they put the user in jeopardy...


There's nothing unsafe about a stool. If a person can fit behind the register, then so can a dwarf on a stool. We're not talking about a love seat here.

And I speak from personal experience because I have worked with people who have needed to sit while working behind the counter. It's a reasonable accommodation that every store should be able and willing to make.


Most of you are stupid. We as a society should make accomdations for people with physical limitations. She should have an equal opportunity to work in almost any location. She should be able to work at other places than the entertainment industry. Asking to look where you walk while carrying 160 degree temperature drinks should be standard, and not blindingly scurrying to give someone there drink. I would gladly take a split second to look where I am walking so she could have a job. Her life probably has not been the easiest. Get over it.



Starbucks might hire people to do every single job in the store, but that is an irrelevant point. The company is legally required to make reasonable accommodations. If this girl was fired for being a dwarf, then Starbucks is breaking the law. Breaking The Law.

You are guessing this stool is a hazard for others. There is no evidence that is the case. I am sure that there are many ways a dwarf could be employed at Starbucks that creates absolutely no safety hazard.

Ricardo McJiggis

Who needs dwarfs at Starbucks? Might be fine for Tall drinks, but what about Ventis? It caused a hazard for other employees. Don't they have rights too?


Waltie, You have a busier store than we do. Register person needs to ring, pour brewed, get pastries, warm pastries, etc. etc. And they need to do it FAST. I wish it was otherwise.

sbux creative

Why couldn't they have just lowered the counter a bit and installed a register she could use? As well, would it have been so difficult to create a workspace for her with a personal espresso machine, frapp blender area and brewed coffee area?

Why they're at it, just lower everything a foot or two. The tall people can use it easily and it'd mitigate some of the issues when hiring dwarves.

PS: The plural of "drawf" is "dwarves." The more you know.


Could you imagine her moving her stool from the bar, to the cold bev station, to the pastry case, to the oven and then to the condiment bar to wipe it down? All in under a minute?

That would have to be the lean team's worst nightmare.

Ms. Barista

I just bet no reasonable accommodation was made for this person. A stool doesn't have to be very big and it probably could have been kicked under the counter when she wasn't on it. And since no one on this board knows the store layout how can you be so sure of your judgements? You all need to examine your own prejudices against people who are not just like you.


What exactly would one say were "reasonable accommodations"? Not that long ago Starbucks was accused of discriminating against a pregnant woman for not allowing her to use a stool to set on to ring up customers or make drinks. Starbucks was found to not be at fault. Because of the nature of our business, Starbucks deemed that allowing a stool for a pregnant woman (or any other employee) was not reasonable due to hazards and store structures; and that if the woman needed to be off her feet then it was best if she was out of work completely. If one cannot stand for long periods of time (as required by employment) then they should seek a medical note that relieves them of their duties.


Stools are totally unreasonable! No one just stands in place in the same spot at Starbucks! If you're on cash register, you have to grab pastries or coffees, or mark the cups. If you are on bar you have to grab milk from below you (impossible if there is a stool!), move left to right on the bar as it is usually at least 4 or more feet wide. There is no possible way that a stool could be used other than to pull things down from shelves when you need to be stocked, and starbucks already has those step stools!


maybe starbucks should have offered stilts?


The could give her lifts but keep it quiet because if other dwarfs found out she would be accused of heightening and she would be ostrasized by the dwarf community. This person should have never been hired. The person who hired her made a big mistake in judgement.


PS: The plural of "drawf" is "dwarves." The more you know.

Actually the plural of "drawf" would be "drawves."


Aaron: The headline is even-handed. You may want to examine your own biases.


This is a clear and cut case. She was fired for her height, nothing else. That is discriminatory plain and simple. Should Starbucks then say "we don't hire dwarves?" What would the official party line be?



The position they were was baker. Everything was within reach in the backroom. He knew that he couldn't do the front or drive thru.


She wasn't fired because she was too short. She was fired because she didn't do her job in a manner that wasn't a risk to others.


There's no such thing as "height discrimination"


If someone has physical limitations, including their ability to lift, reach, and move around freely (freely is the key word here), then Starbucks is not the place for them. There are PLENTY of other places of employment available for little people (the proper, and preferred terminology). Starbucks cannot, and should not, be forced to accommodate them at the detriment of the rest of their staff. If a little person had to use a stool to do their job, it would seriously limit their movement. That would place an extra burden of work on their co-workers and pose a trip-and-fall risk (presence of a stool, esp. if it kept being moved). I cannot even imagine putting a little person on a stool on bar... they wouldn't be able to get into the fridge! Truthfully, it is a logistical nightmare, and the probably well-meaning manager never should have hired the little person.

Darry Sidamo

I agree with Waltie partially for once. If a stool is a hazard then you probably shouldn't handle a blender or hot milk/water. However the hiring should have been thought out. At some stores there is a place for someone with a disability. Sadly Starbucks has weeded out almost all diversity.


Definitely some interesting discussion in this thread. I don't know employment law so I'm making some random guesses. It seems like once this person was hired, it set up the suggestion that Starbucks either would or could make accomodations for a little person. Maybe there are stores where that would work ... a very short shift at the register only? I have no idea.

I've heard great stories of partners who were great partners and then injured during their employment and I have heard of Starbucks stores making short-term accomodations with breaks, stools, and shifts for partners who have broken an arm or a leg, or other injury. I know that I would be disappointed in Starbucks if a partner had been a valuable partner, come to work with a broken leg and a cast, and then was fired because he or she could no longer move fast or stand for more than brief periods. I guess the difference, of course, is that a broken leg is temporary.

It will be interesting to see how this comes out!

@DarrySidamo - I went to a Starbucks in St. Louis once (this was years and years ago) that had an almost completely deaf person working there. But overall, you're right that you rarely see any diversity with respect to physical handicap.

le resistance

But is she hot? Need pics dammit!


Perhaps this is a bit of a stretch, but what if the girl somehow fell off the stool or injured herself on it? Would Starbucks then be held liable for workers' compensation (or something comparable) if she were injured on the very equipment they would be lawfully required to provide just so she could do the job?


this thread is proof that Starbucks is a EEO employer when it comes to mental handicap, though. Good lord, get over yourselves. People with disabilities have the right to do your low-paid, unskilled fast food job too.

I <3 music

Sbux in the past had cafe attendants. They were there for light duty stuff like lobby slides. I haven't heard of any anymore. It makes me sad how cold an some of the posts are.

There goes I but for the grace of god.


I don't work at Starbucks and never have. But I do frequent Starbucks and have observed how quickly the staff moves around behind the counter. A stool that is being moved around to accommodate someone who is short can easily be a trip hazard for everyone else. If it stayed in one place, at the register perhaps, then yeah that could work. But from what I see, everyone does pretty well everything. And someone standing on a stool to reach into an oven sounds terrifying.

If I'm afraid of heights, should I apply for a job painting bridges? That way when they won't accommodate my fear of heights handicap, I can report them.


I apologize to whoever takes offense to what I'm about to say.

1) This is not a newsworthy experience, nor does it really involve Starbucks at all. This is, as the name of the site implies, gossip. So at least it's fitting with the theme we have going here.

2) The poor darling did get fired, sure. That's terrible. We also fired hundreds more a few years ago. And they weren't handicapped in anyway. I think hiring her was a terrible idea, for both her and the company. She was essentially clocking in for a gamble every day, and Starbucks basically hired a gamble from the start. I'm not discriminating, but we are not the environment for people who can't haul it. Yeah, it's fast food made to look like gourmet mastery. But if I knew what this job entailed, I wouldn't apply if I knew it'd be a risk.

This reminds me of the woman who sued us for spilling hot tea on her infant because the tea was too hot. I'm sorry, that's not news. That's a stupid situation we can gossip about until something relevant shows up.


OK, so a lot of you are saying that she shouldn't have been hired. Well, it's against the law not to hire someone due to a physical disability. And yes, being a dwarf IS considered a disability. A lot of people who don't know any little people may not understand that many of them have had to have operations on their legs and backs etc. For those who can't imagine a little person moving a stool around to do the job..ummmmm stools are part of our daily lives. Yes, I said OUR lives. I am a little person. You should see me in my kitchen with kids, a dog and two cats underfoot. I personally don't understand why the space behind the counters in Starbucks are so small. That's a disaster waiting to happen for anyone serving hot coffee. A friend of mine works at Starbucks and SHE IS A LITTLE PERSON WHO USES A STOOL TO DO HER JOB! They should've worked with this girl. It's upsetting when people decide for us what we can and can't do. 9 times out of 10 we'll prove you wrong. Yes, a stool should've been mentioned in the interview. Maybe it was. Maybe it wasn't.


Sorry shortgurl, but serving 100 customers per hour most of whom have multiple drinks, you literally can't haul a stool around everywhere. It would slow down service.


I think this has become one of the more shameful discussions this website has ever seen.

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