View Full Version : Common sense in employing the disabled.
11-23-2002, 11:04 AM
I went into a Burger King fairly recently.
There was one counter open. It was manned by a guy with very obvious profound hearing loss. Even with the vocabulary limited to the discussion of a limited topic (the menu), the ordeal was excruciating. The order was simple, one whopper w/ no pickle, a 5 piece chicken with bbq, and a large drink. It took minutes to convey. His speach was nearly unintelligible.
Now, I am not railing against this kid, I don't think he would have placed himself in that position in the store. In fact, I am all for doing anything reasonable to employ anyone who can and wants to work. But, what was the management thinking with this idea. This was the one position in the entire building where his specific disability was going to cause a problem. Why put him at the register?
It would almost have to be embarrassing for him, and it was obviously frustrating to every other person trying to place an order.
I would be particularly interested in Handy's take on this. Maybe there is some reasoning that escapes me, that puts this in a different light.
Please, don't get me wrong. I support any "reasonable" step an employer can take to employ anyone who wants to work. But, this example seems rediculous to me. I could see 8 other people working there that day. This kid could have probably done any of the other jobs that I saw getting done with little or no difficulty. Why place him in the one position where his limitations were a serious problem?
It seems that the anti-discrimation message has gone over too well in some cases. Hey bozos, it isn't discrimination if you are making reasonable accomodations. Reasonable being the key word.
11-23-2002, 12:32 PM
Being a disabled person myself I am often aware of others, especially in the customer service industry, who are also disabled.
You say he had very obvious profound hearing loss Hearing aids and the such besides speech issues? Could it have been that the lad was reading lips and trying to do his best? Unfortunately, fast food is not known for its intelligent managers. He could have been put on the drive-through. Don't laugh, I've seen it happen in Oregon.
Also, just because he could have done any number of other jobs does not necessarily mean any one of the others was trained as cashier. It is often that the 'fry guy' is not allowed anywhere near a till. You have to be specifically trained and your employee number is used to set up the till for that shift (in case any money goes missing or owt they know who to blame). In essence, it is once again down to the crap management as they have obviously not allocated the staff properly and left themselves in a vulnerable position.
11-23-2002, 12:58 PM
We were at a favorite Thai restaurant last night. All the employees seem to be Immigrants. They had 2 working the customer area, answering phones, taking to go orders and seating customers. Now, I doubt that I'd be able to get into a long discussion (or even a short one) about the latest political news, but both (even with very heavy accents, and seemingly very little English) were able to seat us, take our orders, fill them, give our bill, make change. Ditto for the to go customers.
Yea, I could hear the telephone order having more questions repeated than normal, but seemed to eventually go ok. And no one there seemed at all put out by having to speak slowly, maybe repeat themselves etc.
I know it's frustrating to have to repeat your order to the min. wage person at a fast food counter. But, in these sorts of cases, I'm rather focused on how cool it is that some one is trying to be self sufficient (while they perhaps work on their language skills).
and gee, yes, it'd be nicer to have everybody talk exactly like you want them to, so you wouldn't be inconvenienced, but gosh. When I travel to the deep south, there's times when I have to work at being understood, too.
Of course, way back in grade school, before I'd completed 5 years of speech therapy, it was pretty difficult to understand me when I was talking, too.
There's lots of ways that people may have difficulty understanding each other - language, disabilities, accents, slang etc. It's a McMeal, not brain surgury.
11-23-2002, 09:39 PM
My fav Thai restaurant is run by a Thai family who do not speak English, and I do not speak Thai. Gesticulation works well, and the food is terrific.
As far as BK goes, does it really matter what is ordered? I mean, let's face it, BK product is BK product.
11-23-2002, 09:56 PM
GD thread from last summer on the same topic, except substitute Subway for Burger King.
11-24-2002, 06:58 AM
Originally posted by Muffin
As far as BK goes, does it really matter what is ordered? I mean, let's face it, BK product is BK product. Yes, it does.
I have food allergies, you see, and if they don't leave the tomato and ketchup off I could wind up in the hospital. So yes, communication can be very important. Which is why I do not frequent BK or similar establishments when they are extremely busy. Even if they understand me and I them, I still have to check my order.
Putting someone with a speech problem in charge of taking orders and communicating with customers is questionable. I have to ask if this person was delibrately set up to fail (I hired the gimp but he couldn't do the job so I'm not hiring any more gimps...)
Some people hard of hearing are capable of fluent voice communication (I used to work for one) and could handle this job - when those places get really noisy proficient lip-reading might even be an asset. However, this young man was not one of those with fluent vocal abilities. He should have been employed elsewhere in the shop.
Now, there is the problem of what we in Chicago call "cheap ethnic eats". Yes, there is a language barrier. But you sort of expect that going into to such a place, and most of them do have a functional, if limited vocabularly for ordering and conducting business. Often, they'll have one person with better English who will assist if there is a particular difficulty, such as customers with non-Upper Midwest accents in our area (which only complicates things futher). When you go into BK, though, you do expect a certain fluency in the dominant local language.
I think someone was doing a nasty on the hard of hearing dude. But then, as usual, we weren't there and don't have all possible information, do we?
11-24-2002, 09:00 AM
Poor fellow. He's left holding the bag while the rest have run away in face of the the fast food class action: http://news.findlaw.com/cnn/docs/mcdonalds/barbermcds72302cmp.pdf ;)
At my local BK, where the staff are fluent English speakers and honestly do their best, they still screw up my special orders much of the time, so I always check my orders anyway.
With the matter at hand, I hope it is a case of the management permitting the fellow to try to succeed, rather than setting him up to fail, but as you say, we don't have the information.
Too bad the fellow doesn't simpy pull out a pad and a pencil.
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