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EEOC Sues AT&T Pacific Bell for Disability Discrimination

Company Failed to Provide Interpreter for Deaf Employee, Federal Agency Charges

AT&T Pacific Bell, a California telecommunications company, violated federal law when it denied an employee's request for a sign language interpreter, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.

According to the EEOC's lawsuit, AT&T Pacific Bell denied a deaf employee at its Fresno, Calif. location an accommodation that would allow him to interact meaningfully in the course of his work.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), as amended by the ADA Amendments Act of 2008. EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California (EEOC v. AT&T Pacific Bell Telephone Company, Case No. 1:17-cv-01059-LJO-EPG) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. EEOC's suit seeks monetary damages for the employee, as well as injunctive relief intended to prevent and correct discrimination.

"The law requires that reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities be effective," said Anna Park, regional attorney for EEOC's Los Angeles District, whose jurisdiction includes California's Central Valley. "A reasonable accommodation should endeavor to provide employees with a disability equal access to the benefits and privileges of employment." 

"Employers are encouraged to engage in a meaningful interactive process to identify reasonable accommodations for employees. Without this discussion, employers may find themselves in violation of federal law," added Melissa Barrios, director for EEOC's Fresno Local Office.

According to the company's website, www.att.com, AT&T was acquired by Southwestern Bell Corporation in 2005. Currently the company is one of the largest telecommunications, wireless, and pay-TV providers.

Read this article on the EEOC website here.

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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person's race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. It is also illegal to discriminate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.

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