- Party City will pay $155,000 to settle a U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) lawsuit alleging that the retailer violated federal law by failing to hire a qualified individual with a disability who brought a job coach with her to an interview, the agency announced.
- The applicant was on the autism spectrum and also had severe anxiety. At the interview, the hiring manager said the store had hired people with disabilities with job coaches in the past and that it had not gone well, and also made disparaging comments about those employees. The hiring manager thanked the coach, in the applicant's presence, "for bringing her here" and stated that the Party City employee who encouraged the applicant to apply would hire anyone, even "an ant."
- In addition to the monetary relief, the three-year consent decree enjoins Party City from future discrimination against applicants with job coaches, requires revisions and improvements to Party City's reasonable accommodation policy and requires Party City to train HR on the new policy and distribute it to all employees.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) generally requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified employees or applicants with disabilities, unless doing so would cause undue hardship. Making an accommodation usually involves a change in the work environment or in the way things are customarily done that enables an individual with a disability to complete the essential functions of his or her job. Absent a showing of undue hardship, employers must provide a reasonable accommodation (such as allowing the presence of a job coach at an interview) to an applicant with a disability that will enable the individual to have an equal opportunity to participate in the application process and to be considered for a job.
Regular training for both HR and managers is essential to preventing discrimination at work, especially to counter individual individual biases. For example, just 30% of respondents in a recent survey said a deaf person could "absolutely" perform their own job equally well or better, according to the Communication Service for the Deaf. To dispel assumptions or inform workers on respectful interactions with people of all abilities, employers can look to institutions like the National Organization on Disability, which offers guidelines on such training.