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Hearing-impaired woman sues Texas agency for wrongful termination

Disabled San Antonio residents have employment rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act. This federal law prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability not only in the employment arena, but also in state and local government, public accommodations, transportation, telecommunications and commercial facilities.

While the ADA does not specifically list all of the impairments that are covered by the law, a person meets the definition of "disabled" if he or she has a mental or physical impairment that limits an major activity such as walking, talking, seeing, hearing or learning. A hearing-impaired former Texas state employee recently filed a lawsuit against the government agency she worked for alleging the agency violated the ADA, resulting in her wrongful termination.

The woman, who is deaf, was hired to work with an assisted living center run by the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Service last spring.

The woman was originally offered a day shift job, according to the lawsuit, but she was placed on the night shift. She made repeated requests to be moved to days, but when they were denied she ultimately filed a discrimination claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Shortly after filing that complaint, she was fired.

Although her employer said she was fired because she was not a good fit for the position, she alleges that she was fired in retaliation.

The lawsuit accuses the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Service of engaging in disability discrimination by violating the ADA and firing the woman under false pretenses. It requests back pay and front pay for the woman as well as compensation for lost benefits, and damages for emotional pain and suffering, in addition to punitive damages, interest and fees.

Under the ADA, employers must provide qualified people with disabilities the same employment opportunities as others. Those who believe they have been discriminated against in the workplace or wrongfully terminated are often wise to contact an employment law attorney as soon as possible after the incident.

Source: The Southeast Texas Record, "Texas Dept. of Aging and Disability sued for discriminating against deaf employee," Michelle Keahey, July 17, 2012

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