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Firms settle EEOC lawsuit for not accommodating hard-of-hearing worker


Two firms that sell electronic billing, discovery and litigation management products have agreed to pay $130,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit in which they were charged with failing to accommodate a hard-of-hearing employee.

Christopher Vely, a sales representative at Wilmington, Del.-based D.O.E. Technologies Inc. and doeLegal L.L.C., repeatedly asked the related companies' management to provide a reasonable accommodation for his hearing loss by permitting him to telecommute or to work in a quiet area because his disability impaired his ability to make sales calls from his cubicle in a noisy sales office, according to a lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The EEOC said Wednesday that the firms initially allowed Mr. Vely to make calls from his home, but later rescinded his full-time telework arrangement, failed to provide an alternate reasonable accommodation and refused to engage in an interactive process to determine a suitable alternate reasonable accommodation.

The agency said the companies also fired Mr. Vely in retaliation for his request for a reasonable accommodation.

The EEOC, which filed suit in September 2011, accused the firms of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In addition to the $130,000 payment to Mr. Vely, the two-year consent decree enjoins the companies from engaging in any adverse employment actions or retaliation in violation of the ADA and requires the companies to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities.

“It's not only good business sense for employers to make simple and inexpensive modifications to the workplace for a qualified employee with a disability — such as allowing sales calls to be made in a quiet room or permitting telecommuting for certain jobs — but federal law requires that they make a good-faith effort to do so,” Spencer H. Lewis Jr., director of the EEOC's Philadelphia district office, said in a statement.

A company spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.

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