ADA Round-Up: $200K Settlement in Disability Suit; Universities Struggling with Accessibility

by: David Titmus

Welcome to the latest edition of “ADA in the News,” featuring recent news, updates, events, and rulings regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Software Company Agrees to $200,000 Disability Discrimination Settlement

A software publisher will pay $200,000 and make changes to its policies and training practices to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit.

According to a suit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Guidewire Software, Inc. invited an applicant to a phone screening for a position at the company. The applicant asked to have an in-person interview to accommodate her limited ability to clearly hear sounds via telephone and computer. The suit claims that after briefly discussing potential accommodations with the applicant, and despite internally approving her request for an in-person interview, Guidewire never contacted her again.

The suit argued these actions violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which pro­hibits employers from discriminating based on disability or perceived disability.

The consent decree settling the lawsuit provides the applicant $200,000 in lost wages and compensatory damages. Guidewire also will implement policies and procedures regarding reasonable accommodations, provide annual training to managers and human resource personnel, and report to the EEOC during the decree’s three-year term.

Linen Services Provider Sued for Disability Discrimination

A new lawsuit claims that a medical laundry and linen service violated federal law when it refused to extend a job offer to an applicant because of cerebral palsy and hearing disability.

Infographic showing a court house and dollar sign with the words "In fiscal year 2019, the EEOC recovered over $116,000,000 stemming from alleged violations involving the ADA."The suit, filed last week by the EEOC, says that Crothall Healthcare, which owns and operates facilities nationwide that provide laundry and linen services to hospitals, interviewed a job applicant for a laundry services worker position. When the applicant showed up for the interview with a sign language interpreter and mobility aids, the suit claims that the company refused to extend an offer and said that the position had been filled, but hired more than 80 non-disabled workers for the position shortly after the man applied.

The EEOC is seeking reinstatement, back pay, and compensatory and punitive damages for the applicant as well as relief designed to prevent future discrimination.

University Lawsuits

As colleges continue to move online in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, several universities are now being sued for not making class materials, websites, and services accessible to students with disabilities.

According to an article in Edscoop.com, colleges and universities still are working out the kinks to make their curriculum resources and services accessible in the new remote-learning environment. But for disabled students, the challenges of digital accessibility have been exacerbated, despite laws that prohibit discrimination against disabled people.

Over the summer, the article states, nearly three dozen disability lawsuits have been filed against universities related to online learning. Many of the suits center around making digital resources accessible, which includes providing students with closed captioning of audio and video resources or supporting text-to-speech functionality for course materials or web content. As a result, students say in their filings that they’re challenged simply in accessing information and resources they need to complete their classes.

How We Can Help

VITAC company logoThough student learning environments look a little different this school year, the accessibility of those learning spaces should not. In-class captions and captioned video instruction can help make classrooms and course materials accessible to all students.

Captions have been shown to help both visual and auditory learners, and improve comprehension, engagement, retention, and the overall learning experience for all students and not just those requiring accessible content.

National universities, community colleges, online lecture providers, and educational video producers rely on VITAC’s service offerings to make their content more accessible and satisfy ADA legal requirements.

Contact us today for more information.