Pacific Bell Settles California Disability Discrimination Lawsuit With EEOC

July 13, 2018

Pacific Bell Telephone Co., formerly known as AT&T Pacific Bell, will pay $15,000 and furnish other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency announced today.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Pacific Bell violated federal law when it did not effectively accommodate a deaf employee at its Fresno, Calif., location. Despite the employee’s numerous requests for a sign language interpreter, managers chose to provide inadequate accommodations for the worker by standing close to him during meetings so he could read their lips, or by jotting down notes explaining the contents of the meeting after the fact, according to the EEOC.

The EEOC contends that such behavior deprived the worker of equal employment opportunities, privileges and benefits of employment, which negatively affected him as an employee. Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California (EEOC v. AT&T Pacific Bell Telephone Company) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to monetary relief, Pacific Bell agreed to a two-year consent decree to provide effective accommodations to the employee, and to ensure against future incidences of discrimination against workers with disabilities. As part of the decree, the company will provide the employee with an interpreter; ensure a work environment free from disability discrimination; provide training to the employee’s supervisors and human resources personnel; and ensure appropriate record keeping, reporting and monitoring of disability complaints.

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