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Employer discrimination and hearing disabilities

According to the National Institute of Health, approximately one in eight people in Texas and around the country report hearing loss in both ears. The Americans with Disabilities Act offers employment protection for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing by preventing discrimination in the workplace. Unfortunately, many employers assume hiring a deaf employee will create a hazard in the work environment. However, these beliefs are often based on misinformation and unfounded fears.

Can someone who is deaf be denied a position based on their disability?

Employers cannot deny an employment opportunity to a qualified individual just because they are deaf, In fact, an employer cannot even ask questions about someone’s hearing disability or request medical information before offering a position. This could establish clear employment discrimination against the employee and support the filing of a lawsuit by the applicant.

When is an employer allowed to ask for information about a deaf disability?

An employer may only ask questions about a deaf disability after a position has been offered to the applicant. Then, an employer may ask questions and can even request a medical exam. However, the employer must only ask questions or request an exam in an effort to offer correct work accommodation to support the employee. Additionally, an employer cannot withdraw a job offer based on answers to medical questions or the result of a medical exam.

Reasonable accommodations by an employer

Employers may need to make changes in the workplace to allow a deaf person to do their job. For instance, they might need to provide a translator or install closed captioning systems to translate phone calls. An employer is not required to make every adjustment requested by the employee. However, they must comply with all discrimination laws.

For those who feel they have been discriminated against in the workplace because of their hearing disability, there are laws that offer protection. It is important to know your rights and take action to ensure you are safeguarded.