Bank of America has recently agreed to pay a $30,000 settlement and provide additional remedies in a federal disability discrimination case that has been pending since September 2013, according to authorities at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
As the press release announcing this settlement explains, Bank of America was sued for discriminating against a deaf employee by failing to provide him reasonable accommodations. Although early attempts to settle this case via the EEOC’s voluntary conciliation process failed to result in a resolution,
Background on the Allegations: How Bank of America Discriminated against a Deaf Worker
As court documents for this case (EEOC v. Bank of American Corp., Case NO. 1:13-cv-01754-GN-VCF) explain, a deaf employee working at a Bank of America vault located in Las Vegas was not provided with reasonable accommodations that would enable him to do his job.
Specifically, instead of providing the employee with a sign language interpreter, the deaf worker’s managers attempted to communicate with the employee via written notes and other obtuse methods. None of these communication methods were reportedly accessible for the deaf worker.
Commenting on this discrimination case, Anna Park, a regional EEOC attorney in Los Angeles, has stated:
Employers must be mindful of the diversity that exists in the deaf community in order to ensure deaf employees are properly accommodated… Rather than take a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, employers need to ensure individualized accommodations are explored and implemented to respond to the specific needs of the requesting employee.
Similarly, Richard Burgamy, an EEOC director for the local Las Vegas office, has explained that:
We encourage employers to provide all employees with disabilities appropriate reasonable accommodations to ensure they enjoy the equal employment opportunities to which they are entitled.
According to the EEOC, Bank of America will now pay a $30,000 settlement to the deaf worker and also:
- Create a dedicated accommodations team that will be focused on developing an “interactive” process for providing reasonable accommodations for Bank of America’s deaf employees
- Train the accommodations team on the requirements of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA)
- Ensure that the training provided would specifically address the issue of developing personalized accommodations that fit the unique needs of “the requesting employee.”
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