Deaf Employee Was Denied a Sign Language Interpreter, Federal Agency Charged
LAS VEGAS-Bank of America, N.A. will pay $30,000 and furnish other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
According to EEOC's suit, Bank of America unlawfully denied a reasonable accommodation to a more than 12-year, deaf employee, who worked at a Bank of America vault location in Las Vegas. Rather than communicate with the employee using a sign language interpreter, the employee's managers and supervisors used other ineffective communication methods, such as writing notes, which were not understandable to him.
Discriminating against an employee or job applicant due to their disability violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit in September 2013 (EEOC v. Bank of America Corporation, et al., Case No. 2:13-cv-01754-GMN-VCF) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its voluntary conciliation process.
In addition to monetary relief, Bank of America also agreed to injunctive relief to ensure a dedicated accommodations team properly engages in the interactive process and effectively provides reasonable accommodations to deaf employees. Bank of America agreed to train its accommodations team on the requirements of the ADA as it pertains to deaf employees. The company also agreed that its training would address issues involving the specific communication needs of deaf employees on the job and that each deaf employee will have different communication abilities and methods available to them.
"Employers must be mindful of the diversity that exists in the deaf community in order to ensure deaf employees are properly accommodated," said Anna Park, regional attorney for EEOC's Los Angeles District. "Rather than take a 'one-size-fits-all' approach, employers need to ensure individualized accommodations are explored and implemented to respond to the specific needs of the requesting employee."
Richard Burgamy, local director for EEOC's Las Vegas Local Office, said, "We continue to see employers fail to properly engage in the interactive process. We encourage employers to provide all employees with disabilities appropriate reasonable accommodations to ensure they enjoy the equal employment opportunities to which they are entitled."
EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.