$110,000 Settlement in Disability Discrimination Lawsuit Against Cellphone Repair Facility, Training Ordered

Friday, February 24, 2017

 Question:  Would disability discrimination training have prevented this case?  See our trainings at http://www.hrclassroom.com.

 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 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.

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