Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Being deaf is a protected disability under employment laws

On Behalf of | Jun 18, 2018 | Firm News

People who are deaf or hard of hearing have every right to be able to support themselves. In fact, laws in this country specifically forbid employers from discriminating against employees based on a disability. Not having hearing that falls within normal parameters is considered a disability in these cases.

Those who fall into this category should be provided reasonable accommodations at work so that they can do their job duties. Employers are forbidden from using a person’s status as deaf or hard of hearing as a reason not to hire the person or for taking adverse employment actions. Unfortunately, there are some instances in which these individuals might have to deal with this atrocious behavior.

Where are protections located?

The protections for hearing impaired individuals are found in the Americans with Disabilities Act, specifically in Title I. Some employees might have other protections to review. For example, federal employees are covered under Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

What is covered?

Not only are employers forbidden from taking negative employment actions, they must also provide reasonable accommodations for employees who need them. These mustn’t place an undue burden on the employer, but many of the possible accommodations for hearing-impaired individuals won’t be burdensome. Some of the ways that employers can accommodate those with hearing impairment include using written information, having a TTY phone or captioned phone. Having interpreters when necessary might also be beneficial.

What should happen after a discriminatory event?

Anyone who is discriminated against for any reason should immediately document the incident. You need to write down the specific information so that you can refer back to it if necessary.

File a complaint with the human resources department of the workplace. This makes it clear that you did let the employer know about the incident. It also sets up more documentation about the event. Once you file this complaint, your employer mustn’t retaliate against you based on the complaint, so be sure to note any adverse actions that are related to the complaint.

You should also file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which is the government agency responsible for investigating these cases when they occur. This is something that you must do within specific time limits, especially if you plan to file a lawsuit over the matter.