Last year, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 celebrated its 30th anniversary of helping protect the rights of Americans with disabilities. However, despite its 30-year history, sometimes workplaces still struggle to follow ADA rules and avoid disability discrimination. In fact, Walmart, the largest U.S. employer, now is facing a lawsuit from U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) over recently violating federal law by failing to give a deaf applicant a fair chance in the hiring process.
Disability discrimination in the workplace
The EEOC lawsuit stems over an incident in which a deaf applicant applied online for a position at a Walmart store in Decatur, Illinois. The applicant disclosed he was deaf and asked for an sign language interpreter for an interview. His request allegedly spurred Walmart not to consider his application, even though he followed up with the company about it.
The EEOC filed the lawsuit after it tried to reach a pre-litigation settlement about the matter. The EEOC’s regional attorney in Chicago noted that Walmart is required to provide reasonable accommodations, such as a sign language interpreter, to give disabled applicants the same opportunities to compete for a job as other workers.
Reasonable accommodations for disabled applicants and employees
Examples of other reasonable accommodations job applicants and employees with disabilities are entitled to include:
- Using video phones to facilitate communications with those who are deaf
- Providing close captioning at meetings or events
- Modifying the layout of a workspace or rest room to accommodate a disabled employee
- Providing screen reader software
- Allowing service animals in the workplace
- Providing materials in Braille for blind applicants and employees
- Allowing those who need to go to frequent medical appointments the option to complete their work at alternate times or locations
The ADA also prevents discrimination against applicants and employees who suffer from mental illnesses, such as depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder.
If you have a disability and face discrimination in the workplace or hiring process, you may need to consult an employment law attorney. You should not not be limited in pursuing jobs or promotions. You should be given the opportunity to succeed with reasonable accommodations. Ultimately, having a diverse workforce, including employees with disabilities, is a benefit for many companies.