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Deaf Employees Always Entitled to Interpreters?

By August 29, 2010

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A federal appeals court just overturned a district court's decision against a deaf UPS employee. This employee claimed UPS did not provide him with interpreters for less important (weekly) meetings, and instead only provided "summaries"  (UPS stated they provided notetakers) for the less important meetings. Obviously, he could not participate in the less important meetings just as a deaf student without an interpreter can not participate in class even if that class is just a gym class.

What does this ruling mean for the deaf and hard of hearing community? (I'm not sure this is a ruling.  The appeals court remanded the case for "further proceedings.") The appeals court said employers can choose modifications for accessibility under the Americans with Disabilities Act, but can not provide ineffective modifications. Does this mean that a deaf employee who is offered only a notetaker or an e-mail summary after a meeting can argue that those are "ineffective" and the employer must provide an interpreter EACH and EVERY time?

If you would like to read the full court case, I found the full appeals court decision online. The full court case is loaded with interesting details, such as how the employee's limited English skills meant he often could not understand written information.

Comments
August 29, 2010 at 8:45 pm
(1) Cousin Vinny says:

From what I understand, UPS needed to get into an ‘interactive process’ in accommodating the Deaf employee effectively. That there were geniune issues of fact in whether the accomdoations were effective, summary judgement was not appropriate.

So, the case goes back to District Court for further deliberation. I think there’ll be a settlement for the Deaf employee and that’ll be the end of that case.

However, in answer to your question, it depends. :( For highly educated Deaf people like you and me, we may not be entitled to having an interpreter at all times. However, we are entitled to reasonable and effective accommodations on an interactive basis. Just pick your battles wisely in the workplace…

August 30, 2010 at 2:05 pm
(2) bgmaron8 says:

Cousin Vinny:
For highly educated Deaf people like you and me, we may not be entitled to having an interpreter at all times. However, we are entitled to reasonable and effective accommodations on an interactive basis. Just pick your battles wisely in the workplace…
bgmaron: I am agree with you , I think more demand on interpreter at all times will cause dispute deaf employees’ work product and possible lose the employment because of distraction on this matter.
I would use my own judgment to use an interpreter for a good standing.

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