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Ask MNCDHH: Tell Me about Employment (Part 3)

You ask, we answer

9/19/2018 9:58:45 AM

Three women are seated at a conference table and they are in conversation. Two women have laptops in front of them while the third has a notebook and a pen.

MNCDHH received similar questions about employment options for people who are deaf, deafblind & hard of hearing and what they can do if they believe they are experiencing employment discrimination. To address a topic that many people have questions about, we decided to create a three-part series on employment. 

Part 3: I am deaf, deafblind & hard of hearing OR I am starting to lose my hearing. I believe that I am experiencing audism, or discrimination, at work because of my hearing loss. How do I file a complaint?

Federal and state laws prohibit discrimination against employees based on their disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 and Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, both offer protection to employees and job applicants with disabilities, including deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing individuals.  An employer may not discriminate against individuals with disabilities in hiring, firing, promotions, benefits, training, or any other aspect of employment. Also, the ADA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities unless doing so would cause an undue hardship.

If you have experienced employment discrimination based on your disability status, you may file a complaint with either the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR). Most employers have internal complaint procedures for filing a complaint of discrimination. This includes all government employers or those that contract with the government and many other employers. 

As the case with all legal claims, deadlines are crucial, and employees need to safeguard their right to sue and file a charge of discrimination with a state or a federal government agency relatively quickly. Generally, an employee needs to file a charge of discrimination within 180 days following an "adverse employment action." 

Private lawsuits are an option for employees with disabilities. However, an employee with a disability who believes s/he was discriminated against may not file a lawsuit until after the EEOC or MDHR has investigated their complaint and provided them with a notice of “right to sue.”

The following are resources for you to consider about your rights, filing a complaint, and the legal process. 

Navigating the legal system is a long and complicated process. You may want to consider hiring a lawyer to help you.

For other possible resources, contact the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Division (DHHSD) office in your region.

Additional information

  • Special thanks to Mohamed Mourssi-Alfash (MNCDHH board member), Elise Knopf (DEED), Ann Feaman (DEED), and Sheila Ritter (Minnesota Employment Center) for their contributions to this newsletter series.
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  • Do you have a question for MNCDHH? Send us your questions!

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