Updated EEOC Resource Explains ADA Requirements for Individuals with Hearing Disabilities in the Workplace

In January 2023, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released an updated resource document, “Hearing Disabilities in the Workplace and the Americans with Disabilities Act,” explaining how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to job applicants and employees who are deaf or hard of hearing or have other hearing conditions.

The document outlines how certain pre- and post-job offer disability-related questions can violate the ADA, describes free or low-cost, easy-to-access technologies that can provide reasonable accommodation for a hearing disability, addresses employer concerns about safety, and shares realistic scenarios of potential discrimination. In addition to adding information about discrimination against job applicants, the updated document provides new or updated examples that reflect available technologies.

“Employers have a legal responsibility to create fair workplaces for all employees and job applicants who need reasonable accommodations,” said EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows. “The practical questions and answers and realistic scenarios in this updated document will help educate employers on those responsibilities and employees about their rights.”

EEOC commented, “Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have other hearing conditions can perform successfully on the job and should not be denied opportunities because of stereotypical assumptions about their hearing.” The document clarifies that discrimination may occur when employers act on unfounded assumptions that workers with hearing conditions will cause safety hazards, increase employment costs, or have difficulty communicating. The document also discusses harassment and retaliation.

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