- Logic Staffing, a Washington-based staffing and recruiting company, has agreed to pay $170,000 to settle a U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) lawsuit alleging that the company violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when it refused to hire a warehouse worker because he is deaf.
- EEOC said that when the job applicant, who had experience doing similar work, returned a call to one of the company's recruiters via Video Relay Service, he was told that his inability to hear created a safety risk and that the company did not hire people who are deaf.
- The company also agreed to hire an ADA consultant to help develop training, policies and procedures; provide reports over the three and one-half years of the consent decree; and post notices about the new policies and procedures on its website, job announcements and bulletin boards.
Bias against applicants and employees with hearing impairments is common. EEOC observed in November 2018, when it filed the lawsuit against Logic Staffing, that the court filing was the third legal action filed in the region that year stemming from allegations that an employer refused to hire people who are deaf. Earlier this year, a Seattle-based Safeway agreed to pay $75,000 to settle a claim that it failed to provide an interpreter for a deaf applicant.
EEOC has specifically mentioned in an enforcement guidance on reasonable accommodation that providing qualified readers or interpreters can be a reasonable accommodation. Indeed, the federal agency noted in the statement announcing the Logic Staffing settlement that the job applicant was provided with a sign language interpreter during his EEOC claim.
The Job Accommodation Network also offers several suggestions for accommodating deaf applicants and employees, including apps developed for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing and the use of instant messaging and texting, interpreters, white boards, strobe lights, CART services and more. The cost to employers can be minimal. Accommodations usually cost businesses less than $500, the organization has said.
Employers should keep in mind that the ADA requires employers to perform individual assessments for each employee, that an informal, interactive process is favored for finding an accommodation and that courts are willing to review that process. Compliance training can reduce liability risks by familiarizing supervisors with the ADA and related laws.