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Deaf Lifeguard Be ‘Qualified’ Under The ADA ?

Deaf News: The Deaf lifeguard be ‘Qualified’ under the Americans with Disabilities Act ?

OAKLAND COUNTY, MI -- What would you do if you were hiring a lifeguard for a community wave pool and the applicant was Deaf, but he was also certified as a lifeguard? A new court ruling this month shows how mistakes made in assessing the applicant's medical condition can leave an employer drowning in litigation.

Case in Point: Nicholas Keith, 22, was born Deaf and communicates using sign language. He also uses a cochlear implant that helps him detect noises, such as whistles and people calling for help. Keith received his junior lifeguard certification and then successfully completed lifeguard training. (A Michigan county provided a sign-language interpreter to relay verbal instructions to Keith during both training programs.)

Keith then applied for a lifeguard position at the county's wave pool, requesting that a sign-language interpreter be present to relay verbal directions during staff meetings. The county offered Keith the job, conditioned on his passing a pre-employment physical. The doctor failed him, citing his inability to hear. Plus, the county’s safety and risk management consultants expressed concerns over Keith being unable to do the job, despite numerous accommodations the county was offering. So the county rescinded the job offer... Read More.

Deaf Lifeguard's Disability Claims Against Oakland County Go To Jury.

The Sixth Circuit has reversed the decision of a lower court and held that a Deaf individual should be permitted to proceed to trial on his claim that a prospective employer discriminated against him on the basis of disability by failing to hire him as a lifeguard. Keith v. County of Oakland, (6th Cir. Jan. 10, 2013).

In reviving the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) claim, the Court found that a jury should be permitted to determine whether the individual was otherwise qualified to be a lifeguard, with or without accommodation, that is, whether hearing is an essential function of the job and, if so, whether reasonable accommodations could have been made... Read More.
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