Consumer Law

Papa John’s Pizza Sued by the EEOC for Disability Discrimination

Papa John’s Pizza, an international chain of pizza restaurants based in Louisville, Kentucky, unlawfully denied a blind employee’s request to keep his service dog on site and away from both customers and food preparation activities during his shifts, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charges in a lawsuit filed today.

According to the EEOC’s suit, in early 2020, Michael Barnes applied for a job at his local Papa John’s restaurant in Athens, Georgia, after hearing from a friend that the company hired individuals with vision impairments. Barnes, who is legally blind and relies on his service dog for his commute, reached out to the local store manager and applied for a job. Barnes was hired but could not start until his accommodation request to bring his service dog was formally granted by Papa John’s. Papa John’s denied Barnes’s accommodation request and fired him before he worked a single shift.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which prohibits discriminating on the basis of disability. The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No. 3:23-CV-00030-TES) in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, Athens Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement via its conciliation process. The EEOC is seeking back pay, reinstatement or front pay, compensatory damages, and punitive damages for Barnes, as well as injunctive relief to prevent future discrimination.

Read the source article at eeoc.gov

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