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To What Degree, as an Employer, Must You Accommodate a Disabled Worker?

Queens New York Employment Defense Firm

Employers may believe they are accommodating a disabled employee, but unless you understand the standards demanded by the Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC), you could end up targeted in a disability discrimination lawsuit.

This was the situation in a case brought by the EEOC against Bank of America. The lawsuit resolved with Bank of America settling and paying the disabled employee $30,000.

The deaf individual was employed by Bank of America for more than 12 years and worked in the vault of a Las Vegas bank. Ineffective methods, such as writing notes and other communication methods the employee did not understand were used to communicate with him. Part of the settlement included injunctive relief by training the B of A’s accommodations team on the requirements the American Disabilities Act (ADA) demands for deaf employees.

For example, reasonable accommodations may include:

  • Telecommunication devices for the deaf (TTYs)
  • Amplified telephones
  • Visual alarms
  • Assistive listening systems
  • Visible accommodations to communicate audible alarms and messages
  • Qualified language interpreter services

Some jobs may require having interpreter services available on a regular basis and others may only require it occasionally. It is the employer’s responsibility to make sure deaf employees can communicate effectively whenever communication is necessary. This includes communication at special occasions and meetings, training along with job evaluations and communication about work, discipline or job benefits.

The ADA also expects employers to transfer certain job duties to other employees. An example is giving the deaf employee a limited amount of telephone duties or transferring telephone duties entirely to other employees.

If you’re concerned about whether you’re in compliance with the ADA or if ADA issues arise in the workplace, consult with one of our attorneys at Stephen Hans & Associates.