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The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has reached a $35,000 settlement with Toys R Us Inc. in a case in which the retailer was charged with refusing to hire a qualified deaf job applicant
In a lawsuit filed in March, the EEOC said Shakirra Thomas had applied for a team member position at the Wayne, N.J.-based retailer's Columbia, Md. store in October 2011.
According to the EEOC, when Toys R Us contacted Ms. Thomas to invite her to a group interview, her mother advised the company that Ms. Thomas was deaf and requested an interpreter for the interview. The company refused, saying she would have to provide her own interpreter.
After Ms. Thomas' mother interpreted for her during the group interview, the company refused to hire Ms. Thomas despite her qualifications and ability to perform the job, with or without a reasonable accommodation, the EEOC said. It charged the company with violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.
In addition to the $35,000 settlement, the three-year consent decree resolving the lawsuit enjoins Toys R Us from future discrimination on the basis of disability, among other measures.
“This settlement should remind all employers that, absent an undue hardship, the ADA requires providing a reasonable accommodation to job applicants and employees who request one,” said EEOC district director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr. of the agency's Philadelphia District Office, in a statement. “Hiring decisions should be made based on an individual's qualifications and not because of a disability.”
Toys R Us had no comment on the settlement.