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Rooting out deaf discrimination in the workplace

On Behalf of | May 26, 2021 | Employment Law |

It’s against the law to treat employees and job applicants differently because of their race, gender, ethnicity, religion or physical disability, yet it happens more than you may think in Washington, D.C. Two lawsuits filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission serve as reminders that discriminating against people with hearing loss can land companies in big legal trouble.

EEOC hits Subway and Dollar Tree with deaf discrimination claims

According to claims filed by the EEOC, a Subway franchise didn’t hire a qualified deaf applicant over “communication concerns.” In another suit, the commission admonished Dollar Tree Distribution for failing to accommodate an applicant interviewing for an entry-level warehouse position.

Too many people think of discrimination in terms of race and gender only. However, the law encompasses much more. As such, employers need to spot and eliminate all manners of discrimination, including slights against deaf workers and applicants.

Employment law standards for hearing impairment

Anti-discrimination workplace standards should start with the HR department. It’s vital that HR employees familiarize themselves with federal and state employment discrimination law statutes regarding EEOC standards and how they apply to people with disabilities. For example:

  • Employers cannot ask questions about medical conditions, including hearing impairment or loss, during the interview process.
  • Applicants aren’t required to disclose information about deafness during the interview process.
  • Employers cannot rescind job offers after discovering that individuals deal with hearing loss if said individual can perform the job without posing a serious risk to other workers.

If you’ve been unlawfully discriminated against because of hearing impairment, it may be helpful to consult with an attorney who is versed in employment discrimination law. Not only could it help you, but by fighting back, you’re helping other deaf workers.