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Two Claim That Arizona Store Refused to Hire Them Because They Were Deaf


Two young men, both recent college graduates, applied to work at an Arizona retail store as stockers. They were not hired. The teens, both of whom are deaf, claimed that the store refused to hire them because of their disabilities and their need for workplace changes.

The teens contacted the Arizona Center for Disability Law (ACDL), which referred them to the EEOC. The ACDL and the EEOC worked together to file a lawsuit against the store under the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of disability.

In January 2000, the EEOC and ACDL settled the lawsuit with the store. The terms of the settlement included:

  • A $66,250 payment for each of the boys, plus medical and other benefits the teens would have received had they been hired;
  • A requirement that each of the boys be offered positions as stockers or unloaders;
  • A requirement that the boys be provided a sign language interpreter for training and orientation, performance evaluations, and scheduled meetings; and
  • A requirement that the store provide other workplace changes for the two young men and other qualified deaf individuals.

A year and a half later, the EEOC and ACDL returned to court because they claimed that the store had not complied with several provisions of the settlement agreement. The judge held the store in contempt of court and ordered the company to pay the ACDL $427,500 for legal advocacy. In addition, the judge ordered the store to produce and air a television commercial about hiring deaf and other disabled employees.

In a statement about the case, one of the boys noted, "I feel good because I took a stand about what happened to me and by doing that I also helped other people who are deaf."

Did you know that...

  • Refusing to hire a person based on his or her disability is a violation of the law?
  • Employers may have to make changes to the workplace or to workplace rules to accommodate a person's disability?