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Jury Awards $184,400 Against Smith Personnel Solutions in EEOC Disability Harassment Case

U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
207 S. Houston Street, 3rd Floor
Dallas, TX 752024726

PHONE (214) 253-2760
TTY (214) 253-2710
FAX (214) 253-2749

September 22, 2010

Trial Attorney
(214) 253-2743

Supervisory Trial Attorney
(214) 253-2740
TTY: (214) 253-2710


Staffing Company Refused to Hire Deaf Applicant, Federal Agency Charged

DALLAS – A Dallas jury today rendered a verdict against staffing company
Smith Personnel Solutions, awarding $184,400 to a deaf applicant who was
turned away when she tried to apply for a job as a stock clerk, the U.S.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which had brought the suit,
announced today.

The jury awarded Jacquelyn Moncada $34,400 for lost wages and emotional harm
and an additional $150,000 in punitive damages based on the EEOC’s charges
that Smith refused to consider her for an open job of a stock clerk because
of her deafness. Smith did not take Moncada’s application nor interview her
for the job, instead telling her through her sign language interpreter that
there was no open job for her.

The jury verdict followed the presentation of evidence by the EEOC that
Moncada and a sign language interpreter went to Smith seeking work as a
stocker. The Smith employee told her that he had no job for her and that she
could be “dangerous” because she “couldn’t communicate.” Moncada had worked
for almost three years as a stock clerk in a previous job, and had never
experienced problems communicating because of her disability.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). The
EEOC filed suit (Case No. 3:08-cv-1552D in U.S. District Court for the
Northern District of Texas) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation
settlement through its conciliation process.

“Jacquelyn wasn’t asking for special treatment, just the chance to apply for
a job,” said EEOC trial attorney Joel Clark. “Smith Personnel’s assumption
that she couldn’t work just because she is deaf is the type of mistaken
assumption that can be prevented through training and education.”

Heather Bise, deafness resource specialist for the Deaf Action Center, who
offered expert witness testimony for the EEOC at trial, said, “I believe
this case will have a holistic affect on the deaf community, and the walls
of audism — an attitudinal barrier towards people with hearing loss — will
eventually fade. Deaf individuals are simply asking for a chance, and I
don’t think we are asking for much.” The deafness resource specialist
project is provided through the Deaf Action Center and funded by the Texas
Office for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services.

According to the EEOC, Smith Personnel Solutions operates four branch
offices in Texas, and employs approximately 650 workers.

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment
discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web
site at www.eeoc.gov.


Download EEOC press release (PDF format)

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