A Syracuse agency for the disabled ironically became the target of a discrimination lawsuit when a disabled employee filed a suit claiming it had violated the American with Disabilities Act.
The employee, who is blind, claims the agency denied her access to an assistive technology program that would enable her to do her work. Although she had been at the job for 20 years, when the company purchased a new computer software program, it no longer had a screen reader which allows visually-impaired individuals to listen to a computerized voice that reads the words on the screen.
The woman states the company has refused to provide software that would enable her to do her job, constituting a violation of her rights on the job. She is taking her suit all the way to federal court.
The employee claims the new program requires her to navigate with a mouse, which implies the user must see the cursor on the screen. When she mentioned the issue to her supervisors, she says they not only demoted her, but also subjected her to the indignity of sitting through a training program of videos that only a sighted person could benefit from.
The disabled employee says their actions subjected her to increased humility and singled her out unfairly as a disabled employee. The employer did nothing to resolve the issue with the new program, but instead took retaliatory action against her. When she asked her supervisors to turn off the screen so they could experience what she experienced, they laughed at her.
She has filed a suit in district court alleging she was demoted and suffered a pay cut. The suit also claims that being subjected to undergo video training humiliated and embarrassed her.
A representative of the company maintains the agency is committed to full compliance within the law to protect the rights of the disabled. This is not the first time the agency has been cited for disability discrimination. A representative for the company declined to comment further.
Disabled individuals have the right to gainful employment and the right to request accommodations on the job so they can be treated in an equitable and fair manner with other employees. Employers are required to obtain, use and train personnel on the use of adaptive technology so they can continue to maintain their job performance unhindered by discriminatory or retaliatory action.
Source: syracuse.com, “Blind employee sues Syracuse agency for disabled, claims disability discrimination” John O’Brien, Jan. 25, 2014