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Thursday, September 19, 2019

EEOC alleges Virginia shipbuilding company discriminated against hearing-impaired applicant

By Mark Iandolo | Sep 19, 2017

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (Legal Newsline) — The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced a lawsuit Sept. 13 against Huntington Ingalls Inc., a shipbuilding company in Newport News, for allegations of refusing to hire a pipefitter after discovering his hearing impairment.

The EEOC says the company gave a conditional offer of employment to Stanley Dowdle in July 2013, to work at the company’s shipbuilding facility in Newport News. Dowdle had to take a physical exam before beginning work. Dowdle wears hearing aids in both ears and requested to be tested while wearing the aids. The company allegedly denied this request and rescinded his offer.

"Employers must remember their obligation to provide a reasonable accommodation to individuals with disabilities - even at the hiring phase - unless doing so would cause an undue hardship," said Lynette Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC's Charlotte District Office. "In this case he only wanted to wear his hearing aids, which he already used. Allowing him to use his hearing aids for the purpose they were intended for wouldn't be an unusual or burdensome request."

The EEOC seeks back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages. Additionally, the agency asks that the company hire Dowdle as a pipefitter.

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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission