Just in time for the holidays, Toys ‘R’ Us will be giving a deaf Maryland woman $35,000 to settle an EEOC complaint that store managers discriminated against her during the hiring process. It’s a timely reminder that ADA accommodations may be required even when job candidates are filling out applications or interviewing for a position.
Shakirra applied for a team member position at the chain’s Columbia, Md., store. When Toys ‘R’ Us asked Shakirra to attend a group interview, her mother told the hiring manager that Shakirra is deaf. She asked the store to provide an interpreter for the interview. Toys ‘R’ Us said Shakirra would have to provide her own interpreter. She communicates by using American Sign Language, reading lips and through the written word.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Shakirra’s mother interpreted for her during a group interview, but the retailer refused to hire her despite her qualifications and ability to perform the team member position, with or without a reasonable accommodation.
When EEOC mediation efforts failed, the commission filed a lawsuit in federal court in Baltimore. That’s when Toys ‘R’ Us decided to settle.
Remember: The ADA covers job applicants as well as employees.
“This settlement should remind all employers that, absent an undue hardship, the ADA requires providing a reasonable accommodation to job applicants who request one,” said EEOC District Director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr.
The number of EEOC disability bias cases has increased dramatically in recent years. In 2008, the EEOC handled 19,453 charges. By 2012, the number had risen to 26,379.
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