RIGHTS TO A SIGN LANGUAGE INTERPRETER

EEOC has just ruled on yet another case where an agency tried to skirt a employee’s right to a sign language interpreter. We thought it would be helpful to highlight the Commission’s simple statement about when an employee is entitled to an interpreter.

The Commission has held that for an employee with a severe hearing-impairment who can sign such as Complainant, reasonable accommodation, at a minimum, requires providing an interpreter for safety talks, discussions on work procedures, policies or assignments, and for every disciplinary action, so that the employee can understand what is occurring at any and every crucial time in his employment career, whether or not he asks for an interpreter….We have further held that an Agency’s obligation to accommodate a deaf employee is not diminished where the employee has the ability to read lips

Obviously, the broadest entitlement comes with the phrase “discussion on work procedures.”  That should capture about 99% of what supervisors talk to employee about. As this new case highlights a deaf/HoH employee is entitled to money damages when this right is ignored.  Check out Aldo v. Azar, DHHS/HRSA, EEOC. No.0120172838 (2019) for details.

About AdminUN

FEDSMILL staff has over 40 years of federal sector labor relations experience on the union as well as management side of the table and even some time as a neutral.
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