3 employment settlements for ADA violations explained. Learn about recent disability discrimination lawsuits, their outcomes, and how organizations can better accommodate employees with disabilities.
Three large employers were recently hit with significant legal settlements due to discriminatory hiring practices.
The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits employers from discriminating based on disability and requires that employees with disabilities be provided a reasonable accommodation, provided it does not put undue hardship on the employer.
It’s critical for employers, human resources and management to understand the legal ramifications of discrimination in the workplace.
Three employment settlements from this year give a closer look at how the ADA protects workers with disabilities and how organizations can better accommodate them.
Employment Settlements for Discriminatory Hiring Practices
Safeway, Inc. agreed to pay $75,000 to Joel Silbert to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Silbert is deaf and when he requested an interpreter for his interview the in-store hiring recruiter did not get back to him and instead filled vacant positions with hearing individuals. Safeway was found to be in violation of the ADA for failing to provide reasonable accommodations.
“I was excited when I was selected for an interview at Safeway,” said Silbert. “But when I requested an interpreter during my interview and placed multiple calls to the store over the following week, I was placed on hold or told no one was available. I felt so disregarded. I’m glad Safeway is taking steps to make their workplace more inclusive. This will make a difference for so many deaf applicants.”
Party City agreed to pay $155,000 for failing to hire a qualified employee with a disability in a lawsuit brought by the EEOC. The applicant, who was on the autism spectrum and suffered from severe anxiety, brought a job coach with her to a job interview and when the hiring manager learned of this they tried to cut the interview short and spoke to them in a patronizing tone.
Kevin Berry, director of the EEOC’s New York District Office, said, “Allowing this applicant to work with a job coach in her early weeks of employment would not have caused an undue burden on Party City. The ADA requires employers to make this type of reasonable accommodation so as to enable qualified people with disabilities to join the workforce, which is a win-win for everyone.”
Employment Settlement for Application Assessment
Blue Cross/Blue Shield (BCBS) of Texas agreed to pay $75,000 to Sheryl Meador to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the EEOC. A portion of their application process included an assessment with an audio portion that did not include captions or other visual accommodations for the hearing-impaired. Meador, who is deaf, contacted BCBS to request a reasonable accommodation, but they failed to communicate with her after her multiple attempts to follow up on the matter. In addition to the payout, BCBS will conduct annual training on the ADA and will inform applicants and employees with disabilities of their rights, including the right to reasonable accommodations.
EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Joel Clark said, “The non-monetary relief contained in the consent decree should help eliminate obstacles for other hearing-impaired applicants. We trust that the new policies and practices for hearing-impaired applicants will effect positive change for this health care services company. The EEOC wants to ensure that what Ms. Meador experienced does not happen again.”