EEOC targets AT&T Pacific Bell over allegations of discrimination against deaf employee

By Mark Iandolo | Aug 16, 2017

LOS ANGELES (Legal Newsline) — The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced a lawsuit Aug. 8 against AT&T Pacific Bell, a telecommunications company in California, for allegations of denying an employee’s request for a sign language interpreter.

"The law requires that reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities be effective," said Anna Park, regional attorney for EEOC's Los Angeles District, whose jurisdiction includes California's Central Valley. "A reasonable accommodation should endeavor to provide employees with a disability equal access to the benefits and privileges of employment."

According to the EEOC, AT&T Pacific Bell denied a request for reasonable accommodation from one of its employees at the company’s Fresno office. The employee’s request for a sign language interpreter would have allowed him to interact meaningfully in the course of his work. AT&T Pacific Bell’s alleged the conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), as amended by the ADA Amendments Act of 2008.

"Employers are encouraged to engage in a meaningful interactive process to identify reasonable accommodations for employees. Without this discussion, employers may find themselves in violation of federal law," said Melissa Barrios, director for EEOC's Fresno local office.

The EEOC seeks monetary damages for the employee and injunctive relief to prevent future discrimination by the company.

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