The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) sued a Tennessee staffing agency and an international recycling company with a facility in Tennessee over alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The action was based on the defendants’ treatment of a deaf employee. The plaintiff sought temporary employment through the staffing agency and was assigned to work at the recycling center. However, the plaintiff suffered from a hearing impairment disability, and once the defendants learned of the disability, the complaint alleges that the defendants informed her that she could no longer work there.
The ADA protects employees with a recognized disability from discrimination in the workplace. It is a federal law that applies to most employers with more than 15 employees in Tennessee, Georgia, and the rest of the United States.
The law prohibits an employer from discriminating against disabled employees in any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, and job assignments. The ADA defines a disability as an impairment, either physical or mental, that limits one or more of a person’s major life activities. The statute specifically includes hearing as an example of a major life activity. Thus, a plaintiff with a hearing impairment is specifically covered under the ADA.
Covered employers must provide a reasonable accommodation to employees with recognized disabilities, unless providing the accommodation would result in an undue hardship. Reasonable accommodations are changes in the work environment that would help the employee perform the major functions of the job. One example of a reasonable accommodation given by the EEOC is providing an interpreter for a person who is hearing-impaired.
Given the facts as stated by the EEOC, it seems that the employer was covered by the ADA and that the plaintiff was entitled to protection because of her hearing impairment.
Employees who suspect that they may have been the victim of unlawful disability discrimination may seek redress from employers or prospective employers who have violated the ADA. But before an employee can file a claim in court, he or she must first file a complaint with the EEOC. The agency will investigate the claim, which may involve interviewing the plaintiff, the employer, or other employees.
After an investigation, the EEOC usually issues the plaintiff a right-to-sue letter, which allows the plaintiff to file a lawsuit on his or her own. In some instances, the EEOC chooses to litigate the claim itself and file suit on behalf of the employee. This is what occurred in the Tennessee case.
Victims of workplace discrimination deserve to be treated with respect. An Atlanta workplace discrimination attorney at Parks, Chesin & Walbert can help you if you were treated unfairly at work because of a disability. We can help you file your claim with the EEOC claim and later litigate your case once you receive your right to sue. To schedule a consultation, call 404-873-8048.
Employment Law Cases Worth Watching at the Supreme Court, November 19, 2014