- A Washington, D.C., Walmart store violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when it refused to provide communication accommodations to deaf employees, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has charged in a lawsuit (No. 1:18-cv-01314, (D.D.C., June 4, 2018)).
- EEOC said the store violated federal law when it refused to provide accommodations, such as sign language interpreters, to two deaf employees to allow them to participate in meetings, trainings and other workplace communications.
- "Employers must provide accommodations to deaf and hard-of-hearing employees, so that they can enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment, such as obtaining information disseminated at meetings and participating in meetings," said Mindy Weinstein, EEOC's Washington field office acting director, in a statement.
The ADA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for applicants and workers with disabilities. This includes access to workplace communications but as with all accommodations, employers don't have to grant an employee's preferred accommodation; they need only provide a reasonable, effective accommodation.
The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) has several suggestions for accommodating workers with hearing impairments. Sign language interpreters can assist employee who use sign language, but aren't always a necessary accommodation; from notepads to instant messaging, employers have a wide array of tools they can use to accommodate communication in the workplace, according to JAN.
Importantly, however, employers should remember that the ADA requires that employers perform individual assessments for each employee and favors an informal, interactive process for finding an accommodation — and courts haven't shied away from reviewing those processes.