Failure To Purchase $1,000 Software Program Costs Satellite Company
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
May 17, 2005
DENVER, COLORADO--A federal jury has awarded more than $8 million to a Colorado man who accused satellite TV giant EchoStar of discriminating against him because he is blind.
Dale Alton tried to apply for a customer-service job with EchoStar in 1999. But the company told him he would be wasting his time because it was not set up to support blind workers.
Alton had completed training at the Colorado Center for the Blind for such positions. All he would have needed was a computer program that translates screen text into an electronic voice.
One popular screen reader program is JAWS (Job Access With Speech) for Windows, which sells today for just over $1,000.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission represented Alton in his suit, which argued that the DISH Network provider violated his rights under the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act.
Last week, the 12-member jury agreed that EchoStar failed to accommodate Alton in its application process and in the job; denied him the position because of his disability; and violated his rights by failing to use a proper test to determine his skills.
The jury warded Alton $2,000 in pay, $5,000 in compensatory damages, and $8 million in punitive damages.
According to the Denver Post, EchoStar said it would appeal the jury's verdict.