05/17/2011 02:47 pm ET | Updated Jul 17, 2011

Starbucks Sued By U.S. Government For Firing Dwarf Working As Barista

The U.S. government is suing Starbucks Coffee Company for firing a barista in El Paso because she is a dwarf.

When the employee asked for a stool or small stepladder to perform her job, Starbucks denied the request and fired her that same day, claiming that she could be a danger to customers and workers, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The commission, which filed the lawsuit on Monday, said that Starbucks violated federal law by denying a reasonable accommodation to the employee, who was hired in July 2009 and was fired after three days of training.

"Starbucks has become a virtual icon of modern American culture, appealing to an incredibly diverse customer base," Robert Canino, a commission lawyer in Dallas, said in a statement. "We'd hope that when considering hiring a person with a disability, Starbucks would choose to enhance its brand with the mark of equal opportunity and access."

Starbucks did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Corrie MacLaggan; Editing by Greg McCune)

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