ADA Round-Up: Survey Sheds Light on Workplace Discrimination; Beauty Company Pays $75K to Settle Suit

Apr 5 2024 VITAC
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Welcome to the latest edition of “ADA in the News,” featuring recent updates and rulings regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Beauty Company Settles Suit, Commits to Inclusive Workplace

A Chicago-based beauty and personal care product company will pay $75,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit.

The suit, filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), claimed that Voyant Beauty, LLC fired an employee on her first day of work upon learning that she is deaf. According to the suit, the company assumed that, because she is deaf, the employee could not safely work as a production worker at its facility.

Such conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination based on disability and requires employers to reasonably accommodate an employee’s disability, unless an accommodation would impose an undue hardship.

Under the consent decree settling the lawsuit, Voyant will pay $75,000 in compensation, will provide training to management employees on laws prohibiting disability discrimination, and will report to the EEOC on the hiring of disabled applicants for the decree’s duration.

“Relying on unfounded stereotypes about an individual’s disability in making employment decisions is illegal,” said Gregory Gochanour, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Chicago District Office. “A decision not to hire someone with a disability based on a safety concern must be based on an individualized assessment of the person’s actual ability to safely perform the essential functions of the job, potentially with accommodations. The ADA requires this to be determined based on objective evidence, not assumptions or guesswork.”

Hospital emergency entrance sign

Kansas City Hospital Settles Disability Discrimination Complaint

The United States Attorney’s Office has reached a settlement with a Kansas City medical facility to resolve allegations that the hospital failed to accommodate a patient who is deaf by not providing a sign language interpreter. 

Under the settlement, Providence Medical Center (Prime Healthcare Services – Providence) agreed to compensate the patient after hospital staff failed to communicate with the patient effectively during his five-day hospital stay.

Additionally, the center agreed to change its policies and practices to come into compliance with their obligations under the ADA. This includes:

  • Providing patients and companions who are deaf or hard of hearing with appropriate auxiliary aids and services necessary for effective communication
  • Designating at least one employee as an ADA Administrator or ADA Co-Administrators who will be on call to answer questions and provide assistance regarding auxiliary aids and services including qualified interpreters 
  • Maintaining a log for requests for qualified interpreters on site or through video remote services that documents the time and date the request, patient’s name, the time and date of the scheduled appointment
  • Establishing a system to investigate disputes regarding effective communication with patients who need assistive services

“All patients deserve clear explanations about the nature of their diagnosis and medical treatment so they can have a full understanding of their options and make well-informed decisions about their healthcare,” said U.S. Attorney Kate E. Brubacher. “A patient’s disability doesn’t relieve a medical facility and its staff of their obligation to provide effective communication.” 

Survey Sheds News Light on Workplace Discrimination

A recent survey found that a quarter of workers with a disability have experienced discrimination during the job interview process.

HR Brew reviewed an Indeed survey of more than 2,000 workers that showed one in three employees with a disability experienced discrimination in the workplace. The survey also reported that nearly 40% of respondents said they struggle to identify whether jobs will be accommodating to their disability, while 31% fear they won’t be considered for roles based on their disability.

The article notes a few steps that employers can take to help employees, including providing disability etiquette and inclusion training for staff and making the interview processes more accessible, such as by providing live captioning.