Fort Worth Cellphone Repair Facility Refused to Hire Two Hearing-Impaired Applicants Because of Their Disability, Federal Agency Charged
DALLAS - A Fort Worth cellphone repair facility has agreed to pay $110,000 and provide other significant relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The EEOC charged in its suit that S&B Industry violated federal law by denying employment to two hearing-impaired applicants because of their disability. The EEOC's suit also alleged that S&B Industry violated the law by denying the two applicants a reasonable accommodation during the application process.
According to the EEOC's suit, Katelynn Baker and Tia Rice applied for jobs with S&B Industry (also doing business as Fox Conn S&B) in the company's cellphone repair facility. During a group interview, the two women used American Sign Language to communicate with one another, and the company became aware that they were hearing-impaired. In a meeting with one of the supervisors, Baker and Rice requested that the supervisor provide written information about the positions for which they were applying. The supervisor initially complied, but then refused to continue writing information for Baker and Rice, according to the suit. Baker and Rice were then told that S&B Industry would not hire them.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA protects employees from discrimination based on their disabilities and requires employers to make reasonable accommodations to employees' and applicants' disabilities as long as it does not pose an undue hardship. The EEOC sued in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas (Civil Action No. 3:15-cv-00641) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
Under the terms of the three-year consent decree settling the case, S&B Industry will pay $110,000 in total monetary relief. The company also agreed to post a notice about the settlement and provide training for employees on the ADA to include instruction on the reasonable accommodation process. The employer will also keep a written log of all complaints of disability discrimination and report to the EEOC on a semi-annual basis. Managers, supervisors, and human resource professionals will attend a training by the Deaf Action Center, a Dallas organization that provides advocacy services for individuals with hearing impairments. The training provided by the Deaf Action Center will cover topics such as the use of sign language interpreters in employment and interview settings.
"Here were two excellent candidates for hire who demonstrated a great deal of courage by coming forward to report what happened to them," said EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Joel Clark. "We hope the settlement in this case will play a part in encouraging employers to eliminate barriers that keep deaf applicants from bringing their skills and talents to the workplace."
Dallas District Office Regional Attorney Robert A. Canino said, "We feel the employer here is committed to doing positive things going forward. These experiences can lead us all to be more attuned to what we can do collectively to contribute to the evolution of an ever more inclusive workplace."
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.