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Press Release 07-12-2018

Pacific Bell Settles Disability Discrimination Lawsuit with EEOC

Company  Refused Deaf Employee's Requests for Interpreter, Federal Agency Charges

FRESNO, Calif. - Pacific Bell  Telephone Company, formerly known as AT&T Pacific Bell, will pay $15,000  and furnish other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought  by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency  announced today.

According to the EEOC's lawsuit,  Pacific Bell violated federal law when it did not effectively accommodate a  deaf employee at its Fresno, Calif., location. Despite the employee's numerous  requests for a sign language interpreter, managers chose to provide inadequate  accommodations for the worker by standing close to him during meetings so he  could read their lips, or by jotting down notes explaining the contents of the  meeting after the fact. The EEOC contends that such behavior deprived the  worker of equal employment opportunities, privileges and benefits of  employment, which negatively affected him as an employee.

Such alleged conduct violates the  Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District  Court for the Eastern District of California (EEOC v. AT&T Pacific Bell  Telephone Company, Case No. 1:17-cv-01059-LJO-EPG) after first attempting to  reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition  to monetary relief, Pacific Bell agreed to a two-year consent decree to provide  effective accommodations to the employee, and to ensure against future  incidences of discrimination against workers with disabilities. As part of the  decree, the company will provide the employee with an interpreter; ensure a  work environment free from disability discrimination, especially as it pertains  to reasonable accommodation of hard-of-hearing and deaf employees; provide  training to the employee's immediate supervisor, subsequent supervisors, and  human resources personnel; and ensure appropriate record keeping, reporting and  monitoring of disability complaints.

"Subjecting workers to different  terms, conditions and privileges of employment because of deafness is a direct  violation of the ADA," said Melissa Barrios, director for EEOC's Fresno Local  Office. "The EEOC is here to fight for the rights of employees with disabilities."

Anna Park, regional attorney for  the EEOC's Los Angeles District, whose jurisdiction includes California's  Central Valley, added, "We commend Pacific Bell for its willingness to put in  place meaningful relief that will allow all employees with disabilities to  participate in all aspects of the work environment."

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.