BALTIMORE — The federal government is suing Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, alleging the company refused to hire a qualified deaf applicant for a dishwasher position, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a deaf job applicant with a scheduled job interview was turned away and told the designated manager was not there. The manager on duty refused to interview the applicant even though Cracker Barrel's policy states any manager available can conduct a job interview, the EEOC said.
The EEOC also alleges the manager on duty was "visibly uncomfortable" interacting with the deaf applicant who attempted to communicate through written notes.
"We filed this lawsuit because Cracker Barrel refused to interview or hire a qualified applicant simply because he is deaf," EEOC regional attorney Debra Lawrence said in a statement. "That is cruel and against federal law."
"Hiring decisions should be based on qualifications, not on fears about or prejudices against people with disabilities," added EEOC Philadelphia District director Jamie Williamson. "The EEOC will file suit, when necessary, to protect workers from disability discrimination."
According to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland Baltimore Division, several weeks after the deaf applicant was turned away for the interview, three new dishwashers who were not deaf were hired at the same Cracker Barrel in Linthicum Heights, Maryland.