People with disabilities make up an indispensible part of the American workforce. Technological advances and cultural understanding has made this more evident in recent decades, and U.S. law – as well as law in California – has attempted to keep up and ensure the rights of disabled people are respected in the workplace.
The Americans with Disabilities Act was a major step forward in this legal realm, and access to workplaces and public buildings have been created and maintained since 1990. Significant protections were added in 2008.
One of the key legal concepts underpinning this access has been the expectation of reasonable accommodation. In the case of employment, this doctrine states that an employee must be allowed to interact meaningfully with his or her work in order to be reasonable accommodated.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) claims that a California telecommunications company failed to provide this accommodation and violated federal law when they did not provide a sign language interpreter for a deaf employee.
The commission's suit seeks monetary damages and injunctive relief, intended to correct a discriminatory practice. "A reasonable accommodation should endeavor to provide employees with a disability equal access to the benefits and privileges of employment," said an attorney with the commission.
Employees who have experienced disability discrimination have rights at the federal and state level to rectify the situation. Although there are often conciliation processes of which workers should be aware, a legal representative can be helpful in that case of a mediation, settlement or court action.
Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, "EEOC Sues AT&T Pacific Bell for Disability Discrimination," Aug. 08, 2017