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Disability Law

EEOC sues Toys ‘R’ Us, says company failed to provide interpreter for deaf job applicant

Posted Mar 20, 2013 12:22 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers are required to provide reasonable accommodation to workers, unless doing so would be an undue hardship.

What exactly is required, in a given case, can be open to interpretation. But for a big company like Toys "R" Us there's virtually no question that a deaf applicant who requested a sign language interpreter at a job interview should have been provided with one, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission contends in a federal lawsuit filed last week, the Baltimore Sun reports.

"Given the size and resources of Toys 'R' Us, it is difficult to understand how it would have been an undue hardship for such a large retailer to provide an interpreter when asked to do so," he said EEOC District Director Spencer H. Lewis in a written statement provided to the newspaper.

The retailer declined to comment, through a spokeswoman because of pending litigation.

The suit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, also alleges that the applicant, Shakirra Thomas, was not hired because she is deaf. Her mother served as her interpreter at the job interview after the company refused to provide one, the EEOC says, and she then heard nothing further about the job application even though her mother contacted Toys "R" Us for information.

Advocates for the disabled say such issues are common and contribute to their high unemployment rate.

Related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "Calif. DOJ Among Agencies Sued for Alleged Discrimination Against Deaf Workers"

ABAJournal.com: "Family Sues Over Disbanded Girl Scout Troop, Says Federal Law Mandates Interpreter for Deaf Member"

ABAJournal.com: "Debt Collection Law Firm Settles with DOJ over Alleged Bias Against Deaf Persons"

ABAJournal.com: "Providing Interpreter for Deaf Lifeguard May Not Be Unreasonable Accommodation, 6th Circuit Says"

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