U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Arizona Disability Services Company Will Pay $33,500 to Deaf Jobseeker And Provide Employment Opportunities to Future Hearing-Impaired Applicants
PHOENIX – A Tucson-based provider of community services for adults with developmental disabilities has agreed to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
The EEOC’s suit charged that Community Provider of Enrichment Services, Inc. (CPES) violated the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) when it refused to hire at least two job applicants, Lisa Parra and Rick Siego, because they are hearing-impaired, and that the corporation had a policy of refusing to hire people who are deaf or hard of hearing for direct service provider positions. The EEOC also asserted that CPES failed to reasonably accommodate Siego and other deaf applicants during the hiring process by refusing to provide sign language interpreter services. CPES’s business is to provide support services to consumers with disabilities, including group home and in-home services.
“People with disabilities, including people with hearing impairments, must not be excluded from jobs because of stereotypes or assumptions regarding their abilities,” EEOC Phoenix Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill said. “In this case, at least two job applicants with hearing impairments weren’t even given a chance to apply for work because CPES assumed they couldn’t do the job. We are pleased that CPES worked cooperatively with us to resolve this case and to change their policies to open their doors to hearing-impaired job applicants.”
The 36-month consent decree settling the suit provides that CPES will pay $33,500 to Siego in lost wages and damages. In addition, CPES will revise the job description for its direct service providers to remove a requirement that they be able to hear. The company will also create policies and train its hiring officials to ensure that applications from people with disabilities are given proper consideration and will work with organizations that advocate for the hearing-impaired to publicize job openings to the deaf community. The decree also requires CPES to post a notice in the workplace explaining the ADA and to provide training to all of its employees on the company’s obligations under that statute. The Civil Rights Division of the Arizona Attorney General’s Office also filed suit on behalf of Parra, and her individual claims were resolved separately for an undisclosed sum.
EEOC Phoenix District Director Rayford O. Irvin said, “The EEOC worked jointly with our state FEPA partner, the Arizona Civil Rights Division, in investigating, litigating and settling this case. The successful resolution of this lawsuit is part of the EEOC’s and ACRD’s ongoing efforts to enforce state and federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.”
The EEOC’s Phoenix District has jurisdiction over Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico and Utah.
According to its website, “CPES serves many individuals with developmental disabilities and/or a serious mental illness, supporting them as they work towards independence and full integration into the community. CPES now has over 1,000 employees, very different from the two staff hired through the first DES/DDD contract in 1980. Today, CPES still offers innovative, exemplary services and support to individuals with disabilities throughout the state of Arizona.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.