Tuesday, September 13, 2011

EEOC Files Disability Discrimination Lawsuit for Deaf Employee

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) recently filed a lawsuit against the catalog company Oshkosh alleging discrimination against a deaf employee.  According to the lawsuit, the employee, who worked for the company for 13 years, was assigned to use a new software program.  Her request for training on the program in sign language was turned down.  Approximately a year later, the company fired her.  Among other things, she is seeking to recover lost wages.  See EEOC: Wisconsin Company Discriminated Against Deaf Worker.

In 1992, Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act to help eliminate discrimination against people with disabilities.  In 2008, the ADA was amended to expand the reach of the ADA.  In Florida, similar protections are available under the Florida Civil Rights Act.   In the context of employment law, the ADA states that in making hiring and employment decisions, it is illegal to discriminate against anyone because of disability.  To prove his case, an ADA plaintiff must show that he/she has a disability as defined by the statute, that he was qualified for the position in question, that an adverse decision was made – i.e., refused employment, discharged, not promoted - and that his disability was a substantial or motivating factor that prompted the employer to take action.  On the other hand, an employer can present defenses to prove that disability was not at issue.

Anyone who believes they experienced discrimination as a result of their disability should contact a labor and employment attorney to evaluate the strength of their claims.  If you have specific questions about disability discrimination, do not hesitate to contact Rich Bradford at (813) 413-2402.  Bradford & Bradford's practice areas include, Wills, Trusts, Probate, Estate Planning, Civil Litigation, Employment Law and Family Law.