Owner of a Tennessee Dairy Queen accused of denying man with cochlear implant a job

A Tennessee Dairy Queen location is being accused of denying a person employment because he had a cochlear implant and couldn't wear a visor or hat. (Image: Mike Mozart / CC BY 2.0)

SAVANNAH, Tenn. (WZTV) — A Tennessee Dairy Queen location is being accused of denying a person employment because he had a cochlear implant and couldn't wear a visor or hat.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) says Fourteen Foods, LLC, which owns 222 DQ Grill & Chill restaurants in 13 states, violated federal law when it failed to "provide a hearing-impaired crew member applicant a reasonable accommodation and denying him employment."

The incident reportedly took place at a store in Savannah. The EEOC says the employee had worked for a predecessor company at the same store location for two years when new ownership took over. The man applied for employment with the new owners and during the interview, he was told he had to wear a hat or visor.

The man told them he couldn't since he wears a cochlear implant. The EEOC says the company required him to get a statement saying as much from a doctor, which he did. He also provided information from the local health department. However, the EEOC says "the company official would not accept the information and refused to call the health department to confirm the applicant's information."

The EEOC adds "the company destroyed his application and refused to hire him."

In addition to allegedly discriminating against the man due to a disability, the EEOC states the company violated record-keeping provisions since they could not produce his application, though they admitted he did apply for employment. Delner Franklin-Thomas, District Director of the EEOC Memphis Office issued a statement, saying:

“Companies cannot continue to use stereotypical reasons to avoid hiring persons with disabilities.”

The EEOC filed a lawsuit in the case Tuesday.

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