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Press Release 09-13-2011

Bank of America's Failure to Accommodate Blind Employee Draws EEOC Disability Lawsuit

Federal Agency Says Banking Giant Could Have Kept Data Entry Worker On the Job at Chicago Facility Instead of Firing Him

CHICAGO – Bank of America Corporation violated federal law by failing to accommodate a legally blind data entry worker and firing him after one day's work because of his disability, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.

John P. Rowe, the EEOC's district director in Chicago, said the agency found reasonable cause to believe that Bank of America was aware of the vision impairment of the worker at the bank's 540 West Madison Street facility in Chicago and did not even consider the possibility of accommodating him.

"When a worker's disability is obvious or apparent, the ADA requires employers to engage in an interactive process with the employee to identify possible accommodations," said Rowe. "Here, our pre-suit administrative investigation indicated that Bank of America was aware of this worker's vision impairment and allegedly failed to consider whether it would be reasonable to provide him with a bigger monitor, font-enlarging software, or any other accommodation."

The EEOC filed suit under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement with Bank of America through its conciliation process. The case, EEOC v. Bank of America Corp., N.D. Ill. No. 11-cv-7373, was filed today in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, and has been assigned to District Judge Milton I. Shadur. Supervisory Trial Attorney Gregory Gochanour and Trial Attorney Grayson S. Walker will litigate the case on behalf of the EEOC.

John C. Hendrickson, the EEOC's regional attorney in Chicago, said, "Visually impaired individuals are fully capable of performing data entry work when appropriate accommodations are provided. Indeed, as long as typewriters have been around -- not to mention all the kinds of keyboards, monitors, and talking terminals now available -- this is a kind of work at which people with impaired sight have long excelled. Our contention is that a banking giant like Bank of America could have accommodated the charging party and kept him on the job. There was no need to put him on the street."

The EEOC's Chicago District Office is responsible for processing discrimination charges, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at