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Loud Music Bias
Surgeons who risked their own hearing by rocking-out during operations will cost a hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma, $100,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) sued St. John Health System under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) for failing to reasonably accommodate a hearing-impaired operating room technician.

The lawsuit concerned LaQuita Reherman, a "scrub technician" employed by St. John for about six years. In March 2006, Reherman was removed from her position after several physicians complained about her being hard of hearing.

Although Reherman wears hearing aids in both ears, the EEOC says she could have heard doctors' instructions if it were not for their practice of playing loud music in the operating room. The lawsuit charged that these disturbances, coupled with her hearing impairment, caused the problems.

Despite several requests for assistance in finding another position, the EEOC says the hospital made no effort to assist Reherman. Instead, the hospital simply put her in a temporary position and told her to find a new job in the system. In June 2006, St. John terminated Reherman after she was unable to find a vacant position.

Failing to make a reasonable accommodation for an employee's disabilities violates the ADA, says the EEOC, unless this poses an undue hardship on the business. "St. John should have done more for Ms. Reherman than tell her to locate a vacant position within the hospital system," said EEOC lawyer Melvin Kennedy.

Under the terms of the settlement, St. John will pay Reherman $100,000 and provide disability discrimination training to all management and supervisory employees. [Reherman v. St. John Health System (USDC NDOK 2009) no. 09CV624]

For information tailored to your company profile, request:
5730 Employer Must Accommodate Disabled Persons
5745 Accommodating Disabilities: Job or Schedule Changes
9399 Office Music Policy

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