EEOC Sues Bank of America for Disability Discrimination Against Deaf Worker

Bank Giant Repeatedly Denied Worker's Requests for a Sign Language Interpreter, Then Fired Her, Federal Agency Charges

LAS VEGAS - Bank of America Corporation, one of the country's largest financial institutions, violated federal law when it denied a deaf worker's repeated reasonable accommodation requests for a sign language interpreter and then fired her due to her disability, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today. 

The deaf employee had been working at a Bank of America Las Vegas facility since 1998 in cash services.  The EEOC contends that her former supervisor was able to communicate in American Sign Language (ASL).   However, in about 2003, the worker's new managers were unable to communicate in ASL.  Subsequently, the deaf worker made multiple requests for a sign language interpreter to assist with understanding the content of meetings, job-related training and personnel actions.  Bank of America allegedly cited high cost as the justification for the continued denial of the accommodation request.  By 2010, the worker was discharged; this final disciplinary action was also communicated without the use of a sign language interpreter.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  The EEOC filed its suit against Bank of America in U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada (EEOC v. Bank of America Corp., Case No. 2:13-CV-1754) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.  The EEOC's suit seeks back pay, compensatory and punitive damages for the worker as well as injunctive relief intended to prevent further discrimination.   

"Employers have a duty to provide accommodations that effectively assist workers with disabilities," said Anna Park, regional attorney for the EEOC's Los Angeles District, which includes Southern Nevada in its jurisdiction.  "The interactive process should be meaningful and provide equal access for employees with disabilities to engage fully in the workplace."

Amy Burkholder, local director of the EEOC's Las Vegas Local Office, added, "Denying basic accommodations to employees with disabilities diminishes their productivity.  On the other hand, the cost of accommodations, which is typically very minimal, is often offset by the gains in productivity."  

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination.  Further information is available at

Written by:

Published In:


DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) | Attorney Advertising

Don't miss a thing! Build a custom news brief:

Read fresh new writing on compliance, cybersecurity, Dodd-Frank, whistleblowers, social media, hiring & firing, patent reform, the NLRB, Obamacare, the SEC…

…or whatever matters the most to you. Follow authors, firms, and topics on JD Supra.

Create your news brief now - it's free and easy »

All the intelligence you need, in one easy email:

Great! Your first step to building an email digest of JD Supra authors and topics. Log in with LinkedIn so we can start sending your digest...

Sign up for your custom alerts now, using LinkedIn ›

* With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name.