OGDEN, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) – An Ogden woman says when she showed up to orientation at Global Health Industries she was denied the job – a job she was qualified to work – all because she only had one arm.
Dulce Villanueva was born without an arm, as she sits on her couch she recalls a time when she would be bullied and picked on by kids because of her disability. While, other jobs had welcomed her, she never believed a company would behave in a way that would make her re-live those memories of being bullied.
Dulce had used a company called Staffing ResourceManagement to help set her up with an interview at Global Health Industries. She says she was told by the staff that the job she would be applying for would be an easy one and that she was qualified for the position, which was the same answered she received from the company when she went in for an interview.
The following morning she showed up to the facility’s location in Ogden when things took a turn for the worst.
“When we were filling out paperwork, the gentleman [which she identified as a man named Corey] was behaving rude. He kept checking underneath the table looking at my hand,” said Dulce.
She took notice of what Corey was doing but did not say anything about it.
When they had finished she said, “he told us, you two come with me [pointing at the other applicants in the room with her] but you, no. You stay here, I’m not sure about you,” At that moment she said, “I knew I would not be getting the job.”
Corey returned a little while and told her “I’m sorry but we can not give you the job.”
To which Dulce said, “Is it because of my arm? And he said ‘yes.’ That they didn’t accommodate people like me.”
“They denied me the job because of my disability.” she said.
When asked what the exact words Corey had used she replied, “they didn’t accommodate people like me – without an arm – and that they sought employees with two arms.”
She recalled telling Corey, “But, you didn’t even give me a chance to demonstrate that I can do everything just as well as everyone else.”
She also told him that she would not let this go because it was discrimination. And remembers Corey becoming nervous as he tried to keep her from leaving to speak with her, but she says, she did not want to be there anymore and left.
The next thing that happened was she was contacted by the owner of Staffing Resource Management about the incident and claims that the staffing agency owner blamed her for not telling anyone she had a prosthetic arm and that they could have saved her the trouble had she done so. She also claims, they told her to forget the incident, to let it go and move on.
When I reached out to Global Health Industries to get their side of the story I was received with a “no comment,” and a hang up just as I was in mid-sentence.
Another phone call to the company was received with a much politer approach, but with the same answer, “no comment.”
However, ABC 4 did obtain a statement that the company had put out stating:
“…Dulce Villanueva, came to Global Heath through an employment staffing agency with several other individuals. At the time of orientation a determination was made that employment of Dulce Villanueva in the production environment would not be appropriate. The determination was made based upon the information available to Global Heath at that time…The decision to extend employment to any one individual requires a determination as to the proper fit for that individual within the constraints imposed in the manufacturing environment. The decision not to employ Dulce Villanueva was made within that context…”
At the staffing agency, Dulce had been told the job was an easy one that she would be required to do things like labeling items, placing lids on bottles, packaging materials, and similar tasks.
She has a prior history of working in production environments. One of her past jobs was acting as the “line lead,” in a production environment where she, ” worked with machines, helped others, changed rolls of plastic that weighed 50 pounds…” she said.
She also worked as a cook where she was responsible for lifting and carrying boxes, preparing meals, and other tasks.
According to the Utah Anti-Discrimination Law even the perception of someone having a disability would qualify as discrimination.
“The law prohibits an employer from making a decision based solely on if a person has a disability. As long as that person is able to perform the job, they would need to consider that person, without any regard to if they have that disability,” said Division Director, Kerry Charlson with the Anti-discrimination and Labor Division.
Dulce, says she was more than confident she could have performed the tasked outline to her by the staffing agency, as the agency themselves had told her she was more than qualified for the position.
Utah law also requires a person first file an administrative complaint action so they can begin investigating a case of discrimination. However, a person can ask for a right to sue letter if they feel they would like to proceed with legal action prior to the completion of an investigation.
“They have to bring a claim here with us first, and for Utah Law it is exclusive remedy…when they file with us it also goes through the EEOC.”
On average it can take 270 days to investigate a claim, which is due to the divisions limited staff and the number of claims the office receives.
Still, Dulce is determined to take action to ensure no one else has to be put through discrimination again.
CORRECTION: A typo in the newscast attributed the statement to “Brian Stratford,” from Global Health Industries. The statement should have been attributed to “Bruce Stratford.”