Disability rights advocates in wheelchairs held a protest Tuesday in front of the downtown Berkeley McDonald’s at University and Shattuck avenues, against what they said was unlawful discrimination against three of its disabled employees.
The protest came a week after the Legal Aid Society Employ-ment Law Center of San Francisco filed charges with the U.S. Equal Employment Oppor-tunity Commission alleging that their client Lisa Craib, 43, was unfairly dismissed from the restaurant along with her two co-workers because of their developmental disabilities.
Craib, diagnosed with Asper-ger’s Syndrome—a form of autism—worked the 7:30-10 a.m. morning crew, cleaning tables, preparing salads and bussing for almost 21 years
Craib said that shortly after the franchise was sold to a new owner in March, she and two other workers with disabilities—Susan Hanks and Alice McGill—were abruptly fired.
McDonald’s released a statement on behalf of Nick Verghis, the new owner of the McDonald’s franchise, Tuesday, which was similar to the one issued in response to the charges filed last week. “I have a strict policy prohibiting any form of discrimination in hiring, termination, or any other aspect of employment,” the statement said. “I comply with all applicable laws—including the American Disabilities Act—and continually strive to maintain an environment in which everyone feels valued and accepted. Beyond that, it would be inappropriate to further comment or speculate.”
Inappropriate..uh huh...Susan Hanks, one of the disabled workers fired along with Lisa on March 18, stood outside the restaurant talking to family and friends. Hanks, who has cerebral palsy, was the first disabled worker to be hired by the downtown McDonald’s. “I have been here since 1982,” Hanks, 65, said. “I don’t want my job back, but I want them to know that they fired me and they shouldn’t have done that.” Hanks said she was considering joining in the federal charges filed by the Legal Aid Society.
Lisa Gordon, one of the executive directors of Easy Does it, which provides emergency services to the disability community, watched the action from her wheelchair. Gordon expressed her thoughts through her assistant Alejandra Ortiz. “This is just wrong,” Ortiz said, translating for Gordon. “Lisa worked here for 21 years because she was able to. She knew how to do a good job. It is not fair that they fired them because they have disabilities.” “We are appalled by this,” said Gina Sasso, who co-directs the organization with Gordon, adding that more than 70 percent of people with disabilities are unemployed. “We are going to continue the struggle.”
3 employees...LONG time-employees...all disabled...fired.
Coincidence? Yeah...right...uh huh....And here is the rest of it.