Some California workers have hearing impairments and need accommodations to perform their required duties. If the impairment qualifies as a disability, it’s crucial to understand your rights. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects you in a variety of ways.
When hearing loss qualifies as a disability
According to the ADA, an impairment qualifies as a disability if it substantially limits a major life activity; in this case, that would mean being unable to hear. A worker who uses a hearing aid or cochlear implant may not be considered as having a disability. Your rights under the ADA are protected regardless of whether you work for a private company with 15 or more employees or for the federal government.
Your rights to reasonable accommodations
Under the ADA, employees with hearing disabilities have a right to reasonable accommodations. These are necessary so that workers can perform their job duties and may include TTY or video phones, captioning, visual alerts, reductions of ambient noise and more. For those who are deaf and understand American Sign Language, an interpreter may be appropriate as well.
As long as the reasonable accommodations a worker requests are within the scope of their job and don’t create an undue hardship on the employer, the employer must provide them. If an employer fails to do this or overtly refuses, the worker can file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Employers are prohibited from asking job applicants about their disability status or discriminating against workers with hearing impairments. It’s also considered discrimination to pay less, fail to promote or give pay raises to, fail to hire or terminate anyone with a disability.
Workers are also permitted to request reasonable accommodations even if they don’t meet all ADA criteria. Anything considered reasonable that helps with job performance is acceptable.