- DISH Network has agreed to pay $1.25 million to settle claims that it maintained an inaccessible job application process, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
- In addition to the payment, the employer agreed to continue to display a prominent statement describing the company’s willingness to provide reasonable accommodations and instructions for requesting an accommodation during the application process. It also will hire a consultant to evaluate and revise its online assessment to ensure questions asked on the application relate to the job at hand.
- "Employers must ensure that all individuals with disabilities are given an opportunity to request an accommodation, even during the online application process," said Elizabeth Cadle, an EEOC district director, in a statement. "Employers should know that the EEOC has the same expectations of employers operating in the virtual world as in the real world."
HR must remember that Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance doesn't end with employees. Applicants with disabilities are entitled to accommodations, including those that enable job seekers to apply online.
And as EEOC noted, both workers and federal agencies are enforcing this requirement. Earlier this year, for example, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Texas, agreed to pay $75,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging that a deaf job applicant was not able to complete the company's application process because it included an assessment with an audio portion that did not contain captions or other accommodations. The applicant claimed she repeatedly contacted the company, to no avail.
Notably, EEOC said earlier this year that video interviews themselves don't violate the ADA but that employers must be prepared to provide an accommodation that would allow a job applicant to use the digital interview format or must provide another means for conducting the interview unless doing so creates an undue hardship.
Those accommodations are key. Robert L. Duston, a partner in Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP, told HR Dive in a 2018 interview that organizations should make sure their career pages are accessible, with a phone number for users to call if they need help. Beth Loy, principal consultant with the Job Accommodation Network, advised HR professionals to offer alternative methods for providing requested information such as e-mail, fax, telephone or mail. Loy also recommended, among other things, that employers enlist an expert to review the system for accessibility and that individuals with disabilities be a part of the testing process.