Employer settles claim that HR rep found 'no point' in training worker with dyslexia
- Protocall Communications Inc. will settle an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) lawsuit with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for $31,000 after an employee with dyslexia filed a complaint alleging its director of human resources stopped her training, denied her an accommodation and fired her when she learned of her disability (EEOC v. Protocall Communications, Inc., No. 18-cv-02535 (D. Md. March 25, 2019)).
- LaShay Johnson, who was training as a telemarketer, said company officials asked her if she had a learning disability and when she confirmed that she did, the director of HR said "there was no point in continuing the training" and denied LaShay's request to take the script home and practice it, the complaint said.
- Protocall agreed to a two-year consent decree that obligates it to provide equitable relief to resolve the suit. The company must provide all employees and newly-hired employees documents disclosing its policies and procedures that prohibit disability discrimination and address reasonable accommodations. It also will provide ADA training for all managers, supervisors and HR personnel.
Protocall's obligation to train its managers, supervisors and HR personnel on the ADA may give other employers a hint; the consent decree prescribing the task aims to fend off other ADA violations, and training plays a big part in a preventative strategy. Ogletree Deakins Office Managing Shareholder Gregory J. Hare emphasized the importance of training managers on at least the basics of the ADA and the Family and Medical Leave Act when he addressed a crowded room of conference goers at the Society for Human Resource Management's Employment Law and Legislative Conference. "Every single manager needs to know a little something about employment law 101," he said. Managers speak on behalf of the company, so employers need to influence how they respond to situations within the workplace.
David K. Fram, director of the National Employment Law Institute's ADA & EEO Services, recommends training managers to take an attitude of service when they happen upon a potentially ADA-related situation with employees, he told attendees at a workshop in August. By listening to and offering to help an employee struggling to perform work because of a disability, managers may be able to work out a simple solution to a complex situation. From there, employers should teach their managing employees how to properly engage employees in the interactive process, how to address workers who are curious about a co-worker's accommodation and how to document any action they take in response to an ADA-related problem, Fram said.
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