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DOJ Disability Discrimination Lawsuit Against Ventura County Resolved

August 14, 2010

Our Santa Ana employment lawyers have been following the recent announcement by the U.S. Justice Department, of a consent decree that resolves a Ventura County, California lawsuit that we discussed recently in a blog. The suit accused the county of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) after a woman was allegedly refused employment because she is deaf and needs to be provided with reasonable accommodations.

In 2005, the job applicant reportedly applied for a position working in social services for children. When she applied, she had already been employed by Los Angeles County in a similar position successfully for over eight years. In her initial interview, the applicant was reportedly given high ratings, and asked appropriate job-related questions. In the second interview, a different interviewer focused on her disability, and whether this hearing impairment and the need for a sign language interpreter would interfere with her ability to provide children with social services. The applicant reportedly responded that as long as she was reasonably accommodated with the help of hearing aids and an interpreter, she would be able to excel in the job. She was not hired for the job, and according to the lawsuit filed by the DOJ, the applicant was not hired because of her disability, and therefore subjected to disability discrimination.

Under the terms of the consent decree, Ventura County will properly train the supervisory staff in charge of firing and promotion decisions to make sure that disabled applicants who are qualified, and disabled employees will be provided with reasonable accommodations, including interpreters where necessary, to ensure equal employment opportunities. Ventura County has also agreed to pay a total of $45,000 in damages.

The ADA was created to protect disabled applicants and employees from this kind of discrimination. According to Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, the ADA prohibits employers from hiring on the basis of stereotypes about an employee's job future performance due to a disability or on the cost involved in providing reasonable accommodations for the disability.

As our Orange County employment attorneys have reported previously, under Title I of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), employers, state and local governments, labor unions and employment agencies are prohibited from engaging in employment discrimination against disabled individuals who are qualified, in the job application process, hiring, firing, payment, job advancement, training, and other terms, conditions and privileges of employment. An employer is required to make reasonable accommodation for the qualified applicant's disability, as long as it does not impose an undue hardship on the operation of the employer's business.

At Howard Law, PC our employment and labor lawyers believe that all employees are entitled to a workplace free from unlawful disability discrimination or any employment stereotypes associated with a disability. If you or someone you know has experienced disability discrimination in Orange County and throughout Southern California, contact our attorneys today.

USDOJ: Justice Department Resolves Lawsuit Alleging Disability Discrimination by Ventura County, California, The U.S. Department of Justice Press Release, July 19, 2010

Justice Department Files Lawsuit Against Ventura County, California to Enforce Employment Rights Under the ADA, Reuters/U.S. Department of Justice Press Release, September 3, 2009

U.S. Sues County Over Alleged Hiring Bias, Ventura County Star, September 3, 2009

Ventura County Sues For Failing to Hire Deaf Woman, Mercury News/AP, September 3, 2009

DOJ: County Ignoring Employment Rights for Disabled,, September 4, 2009

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