The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission



EEOC Says Restaurant Denied Job to Applicant Because of Speech Impediment

NEW ORLEANS – A New Iberia, La.-based Sonic restaurant franchisee violated federal law by discriminating against an applicant because of her disability, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, in October 2006, Gravlee’s Sonic of New Iberia, Inc., doing business as Sonic Drive-In, denied Shanna Proctor employment as a car hop or cook because of her disability, a speech impediment.

Disability discrimination, including the refusal to hire an applicant because of an actual or perceived disability, violates the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No. 6:09-cv-00603) in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, Lafayette Division, after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement. The EEOC is seeking a permanent injunction prohibiting the company from engaging in disability discrimination, as well as back pay, compensatory damages, and punitive damages.

“This is a troubling case of discrimination against a qualified disabled applicant because of stereotypes and bias,” said Keith Hill, director of the EEOC’s New Orleans Field Office. “The EEOC will vigorously pursue em­ployers who have unlawfully denied employment opportunities to applicants with disabilities.”

EEOC Regional Attorney Jim Sacher added, “Employers cannot expect to avoid liability for discriminating against qualified applicants with disabilities. Employment decisions must be based on merit and ability to do the job, rather than on discriminatory factors.”

ADA charge filings with the EEOC nationwide increased 10% in Fiscal Year 2008 to 19,543, the highest level of disability discrimination charges since FY 1995.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at

This page was last modified on April 13, 2009.

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