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PRESS RELEASE
2-26-15

EEOC Sues S&B Industry for Disability Discrimination

Fort Worth Cellphone Repair Facility Refused to Hire Two Hearing-Impaired Applicants Because of Their Disability, Federal Agency Charges

DALLAS - S&B Industry, Inc., a Fort Worth cellphone repair facility, violated federal law by denying employment to two hearing-impaired applicants because of their disability, the U.S. Equal Employ­ment Opportunity Commission charged in a lawsuit it filed today.  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, Katelynn Baker and Tia Rice went together and applied for jobs with S&B Industry, Inc. (also doing business as Fox Conn S&B) in the company's cellphone repair facility.  Baker and Rice went through an interview and orientation process with S&B Industry, during which they received badges.  During the orientation, Baker and Rice 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 she 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, thereby refusing to provide them with a reason­able accommodation.  Baker and Rice were told that S&B Industry would not hire them, and their badges were confiscated. 

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects employees from discrimination based on their disabilities and requires employers to make reasonable accommodations to employees' and applicants' disabilities as long as this does not pose an undue hardship. The EEOC sued in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas (Civil Action No. 3:15-00641-D) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.  The EEOC seeks injunctive relief, including the formulation of policies to prevent disability discrimination.  The suit also seeks lost wages and compensatory and punitive damages for the two women.

"The EEOC will pursue the statutory rights of these two women who were willing, able and excited to start work for the company," said Robert A. Canino, regional attorney for the EEOC's Dallas District Office.  "We will steadfastly address those situations in which employers deny disabled applicants an opportunity to be fully considered at the interview or orientation stage of hiring."

Joel Clark, senior trial attorney for the EEOC, added, "Managers refused to discuss these applicants' reasonable requests for accommodation, but instead just assumed they could not do the job.  The ADA was enacted to prevent that kind of misguided, fear-driven reaction." 

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment dis­crim­ination.  Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.