Creative Networks Failed to Provide Reasonable Accommodations to Hearing-Impaired Applicants, EEOC Alleges
PHOENIX -- A company that provides services to the disabled illegally discriminated against disabled, hearing-impaired applicants, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.
The EEOC's suit against Creative Networks, EEOC v Creative Networks, Case No. 2:09-cv-02023-LOA,filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, charges that Creative Networks discriminated against a hearing-impaired applicant, Rochelle Duran, and a class of hearing-impaired applicants, by failing to reasonably accommodate their disabilities during pre-employment training and orientation and by denying them employment because of their disability.
Specifically, Creative Networks discriminated by forcing hearing-impaired applicants to pay any costs for interpreting services that exceeded $200 or provide their own interpreter during an extensive training required for employment. This policy had the impact of not hiring or excluding hearing impaired applicants who could not afford the additional costs or obtain their own interpreter.
Such alleged conduct violates Title I of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits private employers from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in job application procedures, hiring, and job training, and also mandates that employers provide reasonable accommodations to people with disabilities absent undue hardship.
“It is unreasonable and counterproductive as well as unlawful to deny jobs to an entire class of hearing-impaired people,” said EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru.
The EEOC filed suit after first attempting conciliation efforts to reach a voluntary settlement. The agency is seeking monetary relief including back pay with prejudgment interest and compensatory damages. The Commission is also seeking an injunction to prevent Creative Networks from engaging in any further discriminatory practices.
EEOC Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill said, “How ironic—and disheartening—that this large employer that provides services to the disabled would deny a basic accommodation to a qualified applicant with a disability. Individuals with disabilities are an untapped resource that employers should utilize. Many disabled persons are qualified, ready and willing to work -- all they need is an equal opportunity.”
Rayford O. Irvin, Acting District Director of the EEOC’s Phoenix District Office, added, “We will continue to vigorously pursue our mission of fighting employment discrimination on all fronts. Employers have a legal obligation to provide reasonable accommodations unless there is an undue hardship.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.