Starbucks fined in employment dispute

By Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff Reporter

Thu, Jul 14, 2011 - Page 2

Taipei City’s Department of Labor Affairs yesterday fined a Starbucks store NT$300,000 for violating the Employment Services Act (就業服務法) by refusing to hire a man with epilepsy.

Department of Labor Commissioner Chen Yeh-shin (陳業鑫) said the man, surnamed Yang, had worked in the food and beverage industry for more than four years and had informed the store about his history of epilepsy when applying for a part-time position.

Managers at the store in Xinyi District (信義) expressed concerns about his condition and turned down his application without other competitors for the job, he said.

“Yang’s work experience fit with the job description and there was no competition for the position. However, the managers at the store did not understand the condition and turned down his application by unilaterally assuming it would be dangerous if the affliction broke out at work,” he said.

Chen said Starbucks already employed an adequate number of disabled workers as required by the law, but individual workers at the stores lacked proper training on prevention of employment discrimination.

The Employment Services Act prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. Two other laws that protect workers, the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法) and the People with Disabilities Rights Protection Act (身心障礙者權益保護法), stipulate a required ratio of disabled people in the overall workforce of public agencies.

Public agencies with a workforce of 34 or more employees are obliged to have at least 3 percent of the payroll filled by disabled people, while private organizations or corporations that employ 67 or more people should have at least 1 percent of the payroll filled by disabled employees.

In response, Starbucks said the incident was an isolated case and that the company employed the required number of disabled people.