A woman hired to work at a warehouse learned the position was pulled days after she was supposed to start, a federal lawsuit says.

A national staffing agency canceled the position for her because she’s deaf — even though the e-commerce retailer, which runs the warehouse, had fully accepted her as an employee at their warehouse in Maryland, according to the lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Preventing the woman, who primarily uses sign language to communicate, from working at the warehouse violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, the agency said.

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The staffing agency, Lyneer Staffing, LLC, will pay $119,400 to settle the lawsuit, the EEOC announced in a news release.

McClatchy News contacted an attorney representing Lyneer Staffing and didn’t immediately receive a response.

“We will take action when a hiring official chooses to believe that deafness alone negates all of an applicant’s skills, abilities and positive attributes,” EEOC Philadelphia District Director Jamie R. Williamson said in a statement. “This is especially true when the discrimination comes from staffing agencies, as they play a significant role in referring persons for employment in the labor market.”

The case dates back to November 2021, when Lyneer Staffing forwarded the woman’s application to Whitebox, the e-commerce company, according to a complaint filed in court. The company was told at that point that the woman is deaf.

Whitebox soon accepted her as an employee and she was scheduled to start working on Nov. 23, the complaint says.

However, the day before, a Lyneer Staffing manager told Whitebox that she had canceled the woman’s position because she’s deaf on Nov. 22, according to the complaint.

The staffing agency proceeded to ignore the woman when she contacted them that day to confirm her start date at the warehouse, the complaint says.

Eight days later, on Nov. 30, a representative “finally responded” to a text the woman had sent and said “they did not have sign language interpreters and therefore could not place her” with the job, according to the complaint.

Meanwhile, the woman was fully qualified to do the job, according to the EEOC. She experienced emotional pain, embarrassment, lost wages and more as a result of the job getting pulled.

As part of the lawsuit settlement, Lyneer Staffing will adopt a new policy to ensure its deaf applicants will have access to American Sign Language interpreters, the EEOC said in the release. Additionally, managers will be trained on reasonable accommodations and deaf communication.

Lyneer Staffing will also keep the EEOC informed on how it deals with possible future disability discrimination complaints, according to the agency.

© 2023 McClatchy News
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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