James Kwon, a 25-year-old man on the autism spectrum, who lives in Orland Park, Illinois, is suing Chick-fil-A after being told his autism would prohibit him from succeeding at the restaurant.
Prior to applying for a job at Chick-fil-A in 2014, Kwon participated in a work-study program at Bakers Square – a restaurant chain like Chick-fil-A. As part of his program, Kwon helped clean the restaurant, washing windows and floors, clearing garbage and wiping down tables. After finishing his work-study program, Kwon began working with a job coach to increase his odds of finding employment. Working with his coach, the pair went to Kwon’s local Chick-fil-A in Orland Park, to speak to the branch manager about working at Chick-fil-A.
Kwon and his coach were unable to speak with the branch manager, and so, Kwon’s coach returned later to Chick-fil-A to recommend Kwon for a position. According to the complaint filed by Kwon’s lawyers: “The branch manager responded that Chick-fil-A was not interested in hiring people with disabilities. When the job coach reiterated that she thought James would do a good job, the branch manager stated that people with disabilities would not be able to succeed at Chick-fil-A.”
Based on the branch manager’s comments, Kwon did not complete his application at the Orland Park branch. Now, Kwon is suing Chick-fil-A for violating the Americans With Disabilities Act, which protects Americans with disabilities from discrimination. As part of the ADA, employers cannot discriminate based on disability. Since Kwon illustrated in his previous role that he was capable of working at a restaurant, rejecting his application based on disability is against the law.