WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today announced a consent decree resolving a lawsuit filed against Ventura County, Calif., alleging that the county violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when it refused to hire a qualified applicant for a children’s social services position because she is deaf and required reasonable accommodations. At the time of her application, the applicant had been employed in the same capacity for Los Angeles for more than eight years and had excelled in her position.
Under the terms of the consent decree, approved today by Judge Margaret M. Morrow, U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Ventura County will train supervisory personnel involved in hiring and promotion decisions to ensure that qualified applicants and employees who are deaf will be provided reasonable accommodations, including sign language interpreters, where necessary to ensure equal employment opportunities. Ventura County has also agreed to pay $45,000 in damages to the complainant.
"The ADA prohibits employers from making hiring decisions based on unfounded assumptions about how a deaf employee will perform the job or about the costs involved in providing reasonable accommodations for a deaf employee," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "The Civil Rights Division is committed to vigorously enforcing the ADA to ensure equal employment opportunities for all individuals with disabilities, and we are pleased that the County finally agreed to resolve this matter."
Title I of the ADA prohibits employers, such as Ventura County, from discriminating against a qualified individual on the basis of disability in regard to job application procedures; the hiring, advancement or discharge of employees; employee compensation, job training and other terms, conditions and privileges of employment. An employer may not deny employment opportunities to a job applicant or employee who is otherwise qualified if the denial is based on the need to make reasonable accommodations for the applicant or employee.
Those interested in finding out more about federal disability rights statutes can call the Justice Department’s toll-free ADA Information Line at (800) 514-0301 or (800) 514-0383 (TDD), or access the ADA website at www.ada.gov.