Deaf Woman Discriminated by Instacart Contractors

May 10, 2017


In Miami, Florida — a Deaf woman applying for an Instacart shopper job was discriminated against — she was told she couldn’t work because she was deaf. Her name is Cristina Houghton and she recorded the experience on Facebook live. I’ll show you some clips and her comments. 

[Facebook video of Cristina. She is filming herself and the two Instacart employees who discriminated against her.

Cristina: The man is ignoring my requests for pen and paper and said I had to lipread. I asked him again to write on pen and paper and he just ignored me, he looked mad. He said I couldn’t work here because I was deaf. What? What do I do? 

That's the guy, behind me. He said I couldn’t work because I was deaf. I told him I could work, but he said I couldn’t drive. I told him I could drive! 

(Video shows Cristina confronting an Instacart worker. He is a white male with a reddish beard.) 

Cristina (at home): When I went there, I let them know that I had an appointment at 10 am, I was there early, at 9:30 am. The man used his voice and I told him I was deaf and needed pen/paper, but he would keep on speaking to me. He had a red beard and it was hard for me to look at his lips. A woman sitting by us gave us a pen and paper. The man wrote saying they don’t hire deaf people because voice was required (for the job). It made me mad. 

[Back to Facebook video. It shows two employees talking to each other.] 

Cristina: I told them to call the IC headquarters. They refused. 

[Cristina confronts another Instacart employee, a brown-skinned male with eyeglasses. He tries his best to mouth words and gesture — he appears to tell Cristina that because she is deaf, she is unable to do this job. He appears to say, “I can’t talk for you.” He also appears to suggest that she can’t drive because she can’t hear. 

Cristina (at home): I felt very dejected because they said deaf people couldn’t work — even couldn’t drive. It made me feel incredulous. I didn’t expect this, I was shocked. It was unbelievable that they said deaf people couldn’t drive. Wrong. Deaf people can drive better than hearing people, right! 

[Back to Facebook video. The second Instacart employee continues to gesture and ignore Cristina. The camera turns back to Cristina and she says she will have to call Instacart. As she walks away, she said it’s the first time and she is disgusted. She said she is going to her car to call Instacart.

Alex: Cristina said she was shaking and was very shocked at the experience of being discriminated against. She said she knew the Instacart employees were wrong. 

She said she called Instacart and was promptly contacted back by the Instacart leadership team in San Francisco, California. 

Cristina said Instacart apologized for this, said they were sick to the stomach, told her that there were indeed many Deaf IC shoppers, and offered her a free trip to San Francisco to meet with the CEO of IC, Apoorva Mehta. She will fly there at the end of this month. 

I reached out to Instacart and received a response — they confirmed that their COO/CFO, Ravi Gupta, reached out to Cristina and invited her to go to SF to meet with their CEO and leadership team to help them understand how Instacart can make the experience better for deaf shoppers. 

Instacart said they have scheduled her for another on boarding session (training session) and that there will be an ASL interpreter and a member of the Miami team to make sure the session goes smoothly. 

[Cristina, at home: Today I went for a session with an interpreter. A funny thing happened — I told the woman (the trainer) that I wanted to get a coffee as we waited for an interpreter. As I went to get my coffee, the woman told me I couldn’t buy it — because the president was taking care of it, they would cover whatever I needed. I was like, sure! It lifted my mood. The trainer sat down with me and apologized for what happened. We started training and I will start working tomorrow. 

Alex: I asked Instacart about the two IC employees in the video who discriminated against her — and Instacart said they no longer have a relationship with the two. 

The Instacart team said they’ve sent updated guidelines to all shoppers that work with hiring to ensure that they understand Instacart’s process and their values. 

Impressive of Instacart to react so quickly to Cristina and fix the situation.

Cristina is moving on — she now has a job with Instacart (she just proudly posted a picture of her with an Instacart card and lanyard) and will start anytime now. 

[Cristina, at home: I’m not the kind of person gets mad. I looked at it this way — the man had a problem with deaf people, it was not Instacart in general, it was the man. He influenced the second employee. I forgive them and I hope they don’t do that to other deaf employees. Fight and stand up. I’m glad the man messed up, because it brings more attention that deaf people need jobs. I thank God that I was there to fight. Maybe if it was some other deaf person, they would just say, “Oh really? I can’t work?” and leave. The discrimination would have persisted. It was lucky that I was right there and decided they were wrong. I had to do the right thing for the Deaf community and I also want to see more Deaf people get jobs. Thumbs up.

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