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March 28, 2003

BunBaker's must offer to rehire deaf boy

From: Elizabethtown News Enterprise, KY - Mar 28, 2003


An Elizabethtown restaurant recently hit with a discrimination complaint will offer to rehire a hearing-impaired employee it was accused of inappropriately letting go.

The restaurant's attorney said Thursday that the incident involving BunBaker's Black Angus Grill, which went before the state human rights commission, could have been settled easily with a simple discussion between those involved.

Instead, the commission ruled that BunBaker's had to offer to rehire the worker, provide a sign language interpreter for all staff meetings, training and other communication outside normal work conditions and hold sexual harassment training, according to a commission synopsis of the case.

Uncommon in commission rulings, no fines were lodged against the restaurant.

BunBaker's attorney, Michael Coyle, said General Manager Jason Evans cooperated fully with the investigation and did nothing wrong.

"My client was willing to hire the boy back before all of this," he said.

The case, Coyle said, began when a dispute between two employees eventually led to the worker, a teenage male whose name was not given, quitting his job. He would not elaborate on the dispute.

The boy's mother, Patricia Kennedy, contacted the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights, claiming her son had been treated poorly due to his disability. She never contacted BunBaker‘s management to raise concerns, and the restaurant was surprised that the commission had opened a case against it, Coyle said.

Evans declined comment, referring questions to Coyle. Neither Kennedy nor her son could be reached.

The commission declined to immediately provide documents pertaining to the case and declined further comment. Spokeswoman Victoria Dempsey referred to the allowable three-day waiting period to release information through the Freedom of Information Act.

Coyle said Evans has agreed to rehire the boy.

"This didn't have to involve so many people," Coyle said.

Copyright © 2003 The News-Enterprise