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Wendy's franchisee settles ADA charges brought by EEOC


A franchisee of The Wendy's Co. fast-food restaurant chain has agreed to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, paying $41,500 to resolve the case and implement employee training.

In the suit filed in April against Waco, Texas-based CTW L.L.C., which does business as Wendy's, the EEOC alleged that the company violated the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 by denying job applicant Michael Harrison employment at its Wendy's franchise in Killeen, Texas, after learning of his hearing impairment, the EEOC said Wednesday in a statement.

After successfully interviewing with the Wendy's shift manager for a cooker position, Mr. Harrison was interviewed by the general manager through a telephonic system for the hearing-impaired. During the course of the interview, the EEOC alleged that the general manager told Mr. Harrison that “there is really no place for someone we cannot communicate with,” the EEOC said in the statement.

After failing to reach a prelitigation settlement, the EEOC filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas in Waco.

In addition to paying $41,500 to Mr. Harrison, Wendy's agreed to provide all managers and supervisory employees training on the ADA and specific training on the use of hearing-impaired communication systems.

“Applicants with disabilities can be productive workers when they are given the opportunity to apply for a job,” said Robert A. Canino, regional attorney for the EEOC's Dallas district office. “We appreciate Wendy's willingness to take swift action to work constructively with the EEOC in this case, not only by compensating the applicant who was turned away, but also by committing to training its employees about how to respond to applicants with hearing impairments.”

A spokesman for The Wendy's Co. said the EEOC settlement involved a franchise restaurant that is independent of the Dublin, Ohio-based company.

Attempts to reach CTW for immediate comment were unsuccessful.

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