Labor & Employment

Calif. DOJ Among Agencies Sued for Alleged Discrimination Against Deaf Workers

Updated: The state department of justice is among the defendants in a lawsuit alleging that California agencies are discriminating against deaf workers by not providing them with required sign-language interpreters.

Deaf workers are excluded from participation in meetings and other work activities as a result, the suit alleges, and have been left behind in fire drills and emergency evacuations, reports the Associated Press. Filed today in San Francisco Superior Court, the suit seeks class action status and relief including court-mandated improvements in procedures and attorney’s fees.

“On paper, the state recognizes the need for sign language interpreters and other forms of reasonable accommodations, but in practice, the state has no reliable systems in place to ensure that its deaf employees have effective communication with their clients, co-workers and management,” says Laurence Paradis of Disability Rights Advocates. He is a lawyer for the plaintiffs in the case.

“We are always looking for ways to improve access, and the Department of Rehabilitation will continue to work with these individuals and their representatives, and we are hopeful this will be resolved soon,” Rachel Arrezola, a spokeswoman for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger told AP.

The AP said its requests for comment from the state attorney general’s office did not receive an immediate response.

Updated at 4:11 p.m. to include comment from the governor’s office.

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