This parking company may have assumed that a deaf applicant wasn’t right for a valet job. But, what happens when you assume? 🤔


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Imagine that you operate a valet parking service at a large hotel and you’re looking to hire a parking attendant. Your 10 am interview arrives. You say, “good morning.” He responds in sign language.

He’s deaf.

A deaf parking attendant?!?

What do you do? What if he wants an accommodation to complete the job interview? Is there any reason to go forward at all?

Yes, I can think of 150,000 reasons to take this applicant seriously.

So, can the EEOC, which sued a valet parking service last year because the company allegedly failed to hire a qualified deaf applicant, because of his disability.

Yesterday, the EEOC announced that it had settled the lawsuit for $150,000. Here’s more from the EEOC press release:

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, [the company] violated the law by refusing to hire a deaf applicant for a valet attendant position based on the assumption that a deaf person could not perform the essential functions of the job rather than conduct an individualized assessment of his abilities.

Failure to hire on the basis of stereotypes and assumptions about a disability and the failure to conduct an individualized assessment as to whether a particular disabled applicant can perform the job violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as amended.

Not only will the company have to pay $150,000 to settle the claim, but also it must “affirmatively recruit applicants who are deaf and hearing-impaired and to add TTY capability to its discrimination hotline for the use of deaf and hearing-impaired applicants and employees.”

That, and a lot of EEOC-mandated training.

FYI – I am an EEOC-approved trainer, who has trained employers as required under consent decrees. Although, I assume that the folks, like this employer, that could benefit from an EEOC-approved trainer like me don’t read this blog.

What should your business do differently?

For those of you who are reading this blog, I offer this tip, courtesy of the EEOC: “Disabled individuals are entitled to a fair opportunity to work under the ADA, and that includes a fair hiring process. Individuals with disabilities must be evaluated on whether they can perform the essential functions of the job, not on stereotypes or assumptions.”

Other tips:

  • If a deaf applicant needs an interpreter, find one.
  • Then, consider whether the deaf applicant can perform the essential functions of the job with or without accommodation. If you’re unsure, produce a job description and ask the applicant, “How will you do the job?”
  • If you’re still not sure whether a deaf individual can safely perform the essential functions of the job, consult a resource like the Job Accommodation Network, which has an entire section on accommodating deaf employees.
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