Court Upholds EEOC Verdict in Deaf-Applicant Case
In a recent ruling, the Fifth Circuit upheld the jury's verdict and award in favor of the EEOC in a disability-discrimination case. In that case, the EEOC sued a temp agency that refused to hire or even interview a woman for a stock clerk position because she was deaf. The jury found that the employment agency had violated the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) and awarded the applicant over $103,000 in back pay and compensatory and punitive damages.
The applicant had arranged for a sign-language interpreter to meet her at the agency. An account manager for the temp agency told her that she could not apply for the stock clerk position because she was deaf and would not be safe working in a warehouse environment, even though the woman tried to explain that she had had no trouble communicating in prior warehouse jobs.
On appeal, the temp agency argued that the account manager violated the company's policy and was therefore not acting within the scope of his employment. The Fifth Circuit rejected this argument, stating that “misapplying a claimed policy is not necessarily a bar to finding that an employee acted within the scope of his employment.”
A spokesperson for the EEOC said, “We hope the jury’s verdict and the Fifth Circuit’s support of it will play a part in breaking down the barriers that deaf applicants face in applying for employment.”
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Tags: ADA, Preventing Discrimination and Harassment