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Woman with hearing disability denied a job at NM agrees to $180K settlement

Kaylah Vogt

North Memorial Health has agreed to pay $180,000 to settle a federal lawsuit brought by a woman with hearing disability who said she was refused a job as a greeter at its hospital in Robbinsdale because of her disability.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, in July 2020, North Memorial Health failed to hire Kaylah Vogt, 26, who is deaf for a greeter position because of her disability and failed to provide her a reasonable accommodation.  The applicant was qualified for the position and could perform the essential functions of the job which included greeting visitors, applying COVID-19 masking standards and policies, giving directions and keeping the area tidy and welcoming, violated the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), as amended, which requires the accommodation of employees’ and applicants’ disabilities and prohibits firing or refusing to hire an applicant due to their disability.

The EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. North Memorial Health, Civil Action No. 22-cv-777 (NEB/TNL)) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to the $180,000 in monetary relief, the two-year consent decree settling the suit requires North Memorial Health to revise its policies to state it will apply its disability anti-discrimination and reasonable accommodation policies to all applicants and employees hired to work at North Memorial Health, whether they are hired by North Memorial directly or through a staffing firm.

“Unfortunately, some employers continue to discriminate against deaf applicants based on myths, fears, and stereotypes about their ability to do the job because of their disability,” said EEOC Chicago District Office Regional Attorney Gregory Gochanour. “We are pleased that the consent decree requires North Memorial Health to now engage in the interactive process with all applicants including those sent via staffing firms and provide such applicants a reasonable accommodation as required under the ADA.”

Vogt is a student at the University of Minnesota’s College of Continuing and Professional Studies, and she was featured in a college article in August 2021, where she recalled her experience with North Memorial and her belief that she had been hired.

Julianne Bowman, district director of the EEOC’s Chicago District, said “The consent decree’s requirement of training for managers and supervisors, involved in hiring decisions, on the ADA’s provisions against discrimination is critical to eliminating discrimination against disabled applicants.”

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