A Toys ‘R’ Us store in Baltimore refused to provide an interpreter for a deaf applicant at a group interview. As a result, the toy retailer ends up having to pay $35,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the EEOC.

The applicant communicates by reading text, reading lips and using American Sign Language. When her mother asked the store to have an interpreter present for the interview, the company said she would have to bring her own.

Candidacy rejected
The mother eventually served as her daughter’s interpreter at the group session, but the store rejected her candidacy for a position as a team member. The EEOC said she was qualified for the job.

The EEOC filed suit in federal court, alleging that the retailer failed to provide a reasonable accommodation. Toys ‘R’ Us finally settled the litigation out of court.

Takeaway: An employer’s obligation to provide a reasonable accommodation extends not just to employees with disabilities, but also to applicants. Unless you can show undue hardship – something that’s difficult to prove in court – you need to help applicants with disabilities do such things as take pre-employment tests or, as in this case, participate in interviews.

Cite: EEOC v. Toys ‘R’ Us-Delaware.

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