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Press Release 04-01-2022

EEOC Sues North Memorial Health for Disability Discrimination Against Deaf Applicant

Health Care Provider Failed to Hire and Provide Reasonable Accommodation to Qualified Applicant for Greeter Position, Federal Agency Claims

MINNEAPOLIS – North Memorial Health violated civil rights law when it failed to hire an applicant who is deaf because of her disability and failed to provide her a reasonable accommodation, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed in Minnesota today.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the individual applied for a greeter position in July 2020 at North Memorial Health, which is a health care provider that operates two hospitals and 26 specialty and primary care clinics, urgent and emergency care facilities and medical transportation services throughout the Twin Cities metropolitan area. The applicant was qualified for the greeter position and could perform the essential functions of the job which included greeting visitors, communicating COVID-19 masking standards and policies, giving directions and keeping the area tidy and welcoming. The EEOC’s lawsuit alleges that North Memorial Health failed to accommodate and hire the applicant because of her disability.

This alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), as amended by the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAA), which makes it unlawful to discrim­inate against, fail to hire, and fail to accommodate qualified individuals with disabilities. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. North Memorial Health, Civil Action No. 22-cv-777 NEB/TNL) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks back pay, compensatory and punitive damages as well as injunctive relief.

“It is illegal under the ADA to refuse to hire an applicant because she is deaf or hearing-impaired,” said Julianne Bowman, district director of the EEOC’s Chicago District. “Discrimination against applicants with disabilities is a problem that the EEOC will continue to vigorously address.”

Gregory Gochanour, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Chicago District, said, “Unfortunately, when deaf people apply for jobs, some still encounter discrimination. Some employers erroneously believe that they cannot perform the job because of their disability or discriminate against them based on myths, fears and stereotypes. The EEOC will prosecute such violations of the ADA to ensure that deaf and hearing-impaired workers are not subjected to discrimination.”

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The EEOC’s legal team in its Minneapolis Area Office will conduct the litigation under the management of the agency’s Chicago District Office. That office is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement and litigation in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.