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EEOC sues Toys "R" Us for discrimination in Maryland

Toy retailer Toys "R" Us has been accused of discriminating against a deaf job applicant at one of its Maryland stores. The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a disability discrimination lawsuit in a Baltimore court on the woman's behalf, arguing that the company failed to provide a sign-language interpreter for her when she applied to work at a Maryland store in 2011. The lawsuit claims that this constitutes a violation of the American with Disabilities Act, which requires employees to accommodate disabled applicants and employees.

The EEOC contends that the woman applied for a position at a Toys "R" Us location located in Maryland. The store contacted her for a group interview to learn more about the position, after which her mother informed the store that the woman is deaf and communicates primarily with American Sign Language. When the mother asked that the store hire a sign-language interpreter to attend the interview, the store allegedly informed her she would need to provide her own interpreter. Her mother attended the interview to act as her interpreter.

After the interview, the woman's mother said she called the store to inquire about the status of her daughter's application. When she got no response, she claimed that the store did not hire her daughter due to her deafness. The EEOC learned of the issue and attempted to reach a settlement with Toys "R" Us. This was unsuccessful, prompting the agency to file the lawsuit, which demands unspecified damages for the disabled applicant and requests that the store take steps to eliminate disability discrimination in its hiring process.

It is unclear whether Toys "R" Us did not hire the woman because of her disability or for another reason. The attorney for the plaintiff will need to be diligent in providing an adequate case for the client to prove discrimination was the motive for not hiring the woman.

Source: Baltimore Sun, "EEOC claims Toys 'R' Us discriminated against deaf job applicant," Alison Knezevich, March 19, 2013

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