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January 17, 2007

Breaking Barriers for Starbucks Deaf Employees.

From: Burdick - Jan 17, 2007

Breaking Barriers for Starbucks Deaf Employees.
Burdick vs Starbucks Canada Inc.

Barbara Burdick, a Deaf employee at Starbucks Canada Inc., filed a human rights complaint against her employer last November after Starbucks refused to provide interpreters for review meetings, general meetings, and dispute meetings. Ms. Burdick later filed a second human rights complaint against Starbucks Canada, Inc. for 1) not providing a TTY and 2) for its employees refusing to help call and find a replacement for her shift.

Starbucks and Barbara Burdick reached a settlement that will provide Deaf access to Starbucks Deaf employees. They agreed to develop the request interpreter form, provide ASL interpreters for any meetings, training materials for employees, provide a TTY to each deaf employee, and provide interpreters at Starbucks job fairs. The agreement also provided substantial compensation for Ms Burdick.

Starbucks will provide interpreters if the Deaf employee requests to have an interpreters for a meeting by filling out the interpreter request form. After receiving the interpreter request form, the company will search for an interpreter through the appropriate deaf agency interpreting service. An interpreter will be provided for any meeting. For example, a deaf employee will feel more comfortable communicateing through an interpreter at any review meeting, interview, conflict/solution meeting or personal development plan meeting.

Starbucks Canada will provide a TTY for deaf employees who might need to make calls to find a replacement for his or her shift. Also the TTY will ensure equal access for deaf employees to contact anyone for any reasons such as an emergency in the workplace.

Starbucks will develop training material for employees who have never met deaf people. This will help them to become aware of the unique culure and language of Deaf people, so that the workers will feel more comfortable communicating and working with Deaf employees or Deaf customers. The material will teach them skills such as: how to get their attention, communication methods, awareness of deaf culture and deaf access issues. The material might be on a DVD or Starbucks' website. If the employee doesn't know what to do, he or she can check the information on the website or DVD. The company diversity department can be contacted for more information.

Finally, Starbucks will provide an interpreter at Starbucks job fairs. They will probably work with the local Deaf agency to promote the job position and Starbucks job fair with interpreter access at specific time. It will mean better opportunities for Deaf people who want to apply and work with Starbucks.

Postscript by Barbara Burdick

In fact, about 80 percent of Deaf people are unemployed or under employed across Canada. This rate is unacceptable. I would like to reduce the number of unemployement and under employed. Most common for Deaf people who have degree but still working as under employed. I have been working with Starbucks for one and half year. I understand why most people don't know how to deal with Deaf people because of lack of knowledge about Deaf access. Some people never meet Deaf people and they don't know how to deal with Deaf people. I hope that Starbucks will influence their employees to improve and gain knowledge about Deaf access and Deaf issues. I hope discrimination will be reduced in the workplace.

I want to thank the BC Human Rights Tribrual, BC Human Rights Coalition and my lawyer barbara f indlay to help me out with my case. It was successful human rights case against the gaint company. I hopefully Starbucks Canada Inc will improve better deaf access for our Deaf community.