The trial team of Julie Springer and Geoff Weisbart won a significant verdict in a Florida federal court in February, as a jury found no law was broken when a company rejected a job applicant for a customer service and telemarketing position in part because of his accent, which interfered with his ability to effectively communicate with customers of the company’s clients.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had filed a claim on the job candidate’s behalf alleging that the company and its representatives had unlawfully rejected the candidate because of his national origin which was intertwined, according to the EEOC, with his accent. The EEOC action, claiming violation of Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act, sought back pay and compensatory damages.
Evidence in the case showed that the applicant lacked effective English communication and customer service skills during an employment interview.
“We’re gratified that the jury rejected the EEOC’s position and agreed that employers can consider the impact of an applicant’s accent on the individual’s ability to effectively communicate when hiring for jobs that require extensive communication with customers,” says attorney Julie A. Springer, lead trial counsel . “This case very well may have national implications for the hiring practices of companies that provide call center services and other types of customer-focused employment requiring extensive communication with customers.”
Ms. Springer and Mr. Weisbart were joined on the defense team by attorney Daniel E. Traver of the Gray Robinson firm in Orlando.