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How should employers be assisting deaf employees?

On Behalf of | Feb 20, 2024 | Unfair Labor Practice Defense

Employers in every field and industry have the responsibility of protecting the rights of their employees and providing reasonable accommodations when necessary. This is especially true for companies that employ deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals. It is beneficial to have an understanding of the types of support these employees may need while still protecting the interests of the business.

In most cases, deaf individuals can do virtually any type of job. However, they may need some adjustments and specific types of support, but with this, they can be valuable and productive members of a team. California employers should be careful not to discriminate against these individuals at any stage of the employment process, from the application and hiring stage to decisions regarding termination.

Making a workplace accessible

There are both state and federal laws that require employers to provide reasonable accommodations to workers with disabilities, including hearing problems. Employers must provide certain types of support within reason. While each situation is different, some of the things that employers can do for their deaf applicants and employees include:

  • Provide alternate contract information and options instead of phone calls, including texting, emails, messaging apps and more.
  • Ensure that the employment process is accessible, from the initial stages of completing the applicant paperwork to the interview.
  • Give applicants the opportunity to work in a role on a temporary basis to determine what types of support are necessary or whether a different role would be best.
  • Be aware of needs, and respond promptly when a hard-of-hearing employee asks you to provide accommodations.
  • Tailor the onboarding process to ensure that deaf employees know how to ask for help and how to employ different types of support available to them.

It is also helpful to remember that employers are only required to provide accommodations that are reasonable and do not cause an undue financial burden on the company.

Issues with accommodations

There can be problems between employers and employees regarding accommodations and what is considered truly reasonable. If you are concerned about this type of employment law issue, or you have an employee disputing your efforts to be accommodating to his or her needs, you will benefit from seeking the help of a professional that can provide insight on both California and federal laws.