People with disabilities continue to struggle with discrimination in Houston and across the country. Despite the protections provided by the Americans with Disabilities Act, companies continue to engage in policies related to hiring, promotion, and workplace practices that put workers with disabilities at an unfair disadvantage or exclude them altogether. In one case, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Texas has agreed to pay $75,000 in order to settle a lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Applicants for jobs as claims examiners with Blue Cross were given a 35-minute assessment exam as part of the process. This exam included audio portions that had no captions or other methods of accommodation for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. At least one deaf applicant contacted the company, asking for reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act. However, rather than following up with a deaf applicant, the company instead ignored her messages, despite the fact that she was highly qualified for the position. The EEOC noted that the audio application was a roadblock that prevented her from getting hired.
In addition to the financial settlement, the health insurer agreed to conduct annual training on the ADA and to inform workers and applicants of their rights under the law. It also agreed to create a method to communicate with job applicants who are deaf or hearing-impaired.
Well-qualified applicants face barriers to hiring due to the failure of many companies to provide reasonable accommodations for disabilities. This results in systematic discrimination against them. People who are in this position can consult with an employment lawyer about how they can protect their rights under the ADA.