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PTSD Discrimination

Discussion in 'Introductions' started by Rocco709, Jun 7, 2007.

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  1. Rocco709

    Rocco709 New Member

    I am a 43 year old Gulf War Veteran. After my Honorable Discharge from the Untied States Navy, I soon found myself working for Starbuck’s Coffee. During the time between my Discharge, and starting at Starbuck’s I started having problems with Anger, sleep deprivation, and stress. I was soon Diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I turned in the diagnoses paperwork to my supervisor Jim Yantz, and asked him to put it in my record. Not recognizing or acknowledging my skills and education received on Active Duty, I was hired in as a Technician. After Verbally promising to make me a Mechanic after 6 months, They kept me a Technician for 1 year. At that point I had to fight for a raise with my promotion to Mechanic. Soon after, the majority of the mechanics, including myself voted in a Union.

    Soon after, The Veterans Hospital sent Starbuck’s Coffee a request for a shift accommodation, to help battle my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Even though several mechanics had left day shift, and 2 mechanics from another Starbuck’s Roasting Plant had been brought in on Day shift (both of whom voted against the union) they denied my request, after holding it for weeks, and said there were no open positions. In recent Depositions with Starbucks Human Resource personnel, it was stated that open positions are always posted, however, the other two mechanics walked right into positions that were never posted. Starbucks decided that moving me to swing shift would be an accommodation, however I stressed to Chris Chacon (maintenance manager) that a move to swing would not help, but worsen my condition, in the fact that I would not be able to attend my support groups, and that my friends who gave me support, would also be unable to see me because of my schedule. I also asked if Starbucks had a Doctor look at my paperwork, but was told no, Starbucks Legal is looking at it. I was denied a position on Days. This was my first request. When they put me on the Start up shift for Swing Shift, I was the only mechanic working Straight time for Weekend work. As a matter aof fact, I was the only swing mechanic on Sunday Start up. I continually asked for help, and after working the shift by myself for months, I finally got help by them letting the other swing mechanics making overtime and rotate Sundays. I occasionally would go to Day shift, to fill in when one of their four to 5 mechanics would be on Vacation, even though I did not understand why they needed so many, and I was covering shifts by myself.

    My next request came as Doug Schnell ( now maintenance manager) announced a day shift mechanic was retiring. I again turned in paperwork from the Veterans Hospital. Again it was weeks with no answer. After asking what was going on, soon Jim Nelson, a maintenance technician was promoted to Mechanic, and on the same day, transferred to Day shift. Again, the job was never posted, and I was turned down, in a letter stating no position is available, however someone had just been moved to days (Jim Nelson) who within a few weeks prior to, or after his move, withdrew from the union. Now after my lawsuit has been filed Starbucks is claiming that I did not have a good attendance record (never before related to me) and that was the reason. I tried to explain to them that due to my Post Traumatic Stress, I missed work, and that is why I needed an accommodation.

    I learned from the Human Rights Commission, that if there was an opening, Starbucks would be required to give it to me, but it never happened. I then learned from the National Labor Relations Board, that Starbuck’s did not need me to turn in my paperwork every time, however once I gave my paperwork announcing my PTSD, they should have known, but when I was informed of this, I turned in a OPEN ENDED REQUEST for Accommodation. This was in November 2004.

    My third request came when they actually posted an opening for a Day shift spot. It was put up in late 2005. I turned in my paperwork. Again they took weeks, and I went back and forth asking what was going on, a temporary worker brought in to fill vacant positions, told me, ”that no one was going to get hired anytime soon!” I soon began pushing the issue, and within days, I was denied day shift due to Starbuck’s Long Standing Seniority Policy. However, They had been following the seniority policy set forth in the union contract, however before the union contract, the seniority policy was Shop Seniority, meaning how you came into the shop, was the seniority! However, even after the union contract, that is the seniority they stayed with, not the Shop Seniority they had originally followed. I was Denied based upon the seniority they said existed, and they never mentioned anything about an attendance issue until after I filed my lawsuit. And, after I turned in my Two Week notice, 5 hours later, there were 6 positions posted, 1 of which was a day shift on weekends. They offered me this position, even though I was just recently given my second notification for attendance. Which is totally contradictory to what they are saying about my previous transfer requests. I had already accepted a Day shift job from Tuesday through Saturday Day shift, so I turned down the weekend job, which was not given to me in an appealing way. Lewis Gianni, the maintenance manager this time, told me, “No one is perfect, but we would like you to stay.” I found this a little insulting, and just a plain bad offer. I asked if they were actually giving me the spot, or I had to bid for it again. I was told I would have to apply. Then I stated that there were still people senior to me, and asked if one of those people wanted the position, would I get it, or would they. I was told they would get it, so I declined and left the company.

    During the time I was there and during the union battle, Starbucks would try to do things to get the union members to quit. Some of the things I remember specifically aimed at me were, after 9/11 I painted one of the maintenance carts red, white, and blue, because I still am, and always will be very patriotic due to my Navy enlistment. Soon after one of the Non-Union mechanics was told to paint over it, I was informed of this by another non-union mechanic.

    At one point, Starbucks had everyone watch a video of the guys at pikes place market, because they wanted to promote having fun at work. Because of this, I brought in a pair of motorcycle handle bars, and mounted them to my push cart, part for the morale, and part so I did not have to bend down so far. Soon, I was ordered to take them off, and told that they were unsafe. Even though when I would walk up to a line, everyone would smile, I think it accomplished what they had wanted, having fun at work.

    With the War in Iraq causing so many casualties, I sincerely hope that the other Veterans who are coming back from war, and who will suffer from PTSD, do not have to go through what I have had to. I hope that there can be legislation protecting our returning Veterans, even if they have an UNSEEN DISABILITY! I hope that Big Corporations will Honor the Service that these Men and Women have given, and not hold it against them if they are Union, or Not.

    I recently learned because of Starbucks Wealth, my case is being thrown out of court, it does not make how they treated me right, it just proves that the wealthy in this country are more important than a Disabled Veteran.
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  3. vcc123

    vcc123 Active Member

    I'm with you... After being a Police Dispatcher for 11 years and going on FMLA a time after the shooting death of one of my officers. I was fired. "Due to exhaustion of FMLA" It was done by certified letter.. no phonecall, nothing. I had already applied for long term disability and thought I was protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act.. Guess our Dispatch Center didnt have to comply.

    So now, after a year of being unable to work, I've had to find a meaningless job making literally half of what I was making. Very minimal hrs, (15 per wk is what my doctor will allow) But I feel really screwed over by the Dispatch center. Where are our rights? Who protects us? And why is PTSD considered a LESSER illness than a physical one???
  4. Miander

    Miander Active Member

    Oh ****, this may sound so lame, but I will NEVER drink another Starbucks coffee! I am so sorry for all that you have been through. I went through a lot of bull in the court room too, the only reason why I got any money to live on was because my attorney waived his fees. It drives me ballistic that PSTD is so down played.
  5. anthony

    anthony Silently Watching Founder

    Hi Rocco, welcome to the forum. I am shocked though that it took you 43 years to discover that, and its not just any one countries issue, its a global issue. The wealthy get away with whatever they want, because they merely donate some money in the right places when needed to legally buy a persons vote. It sucks, but we the little people must still fight for what we believe, because every now and then we still win, and those wins are what keep the corporate sector in some control, just knowing they may get taken down by doing the wrong things.

    Well done on your fight, and its good to know and hear about those who just won't say no. Piglet, another member here, is one of the one's who is winning her fight against the education system as an employer, so don't feel bad because you lost, as she is winning her case... a little person against the big corporate world discriminating against PTSD itself. Some win, some lose, we just have to live that one unfortunately.

    What matters is that you stoodup and got recognised, you gave it a go, and maybe you touched one person to realize they are doing wrong, maybe not, but you atleast tried, and that is what matters mate.
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