A recent EEOC press release is a reminder that employer obligations to provide reasonable accommodation extend to job applicants. According to the EEOC, during the interview and orientation process, a Texas employer discovered that two job applicants were hearing impaired (because the applicants were using sign language with each other). The employer refused to provide information about the open positions in writing to the applicants and then told them that it would not hire them. The EEOC does not disclose the employer’s explanation for its actions. However, the EEOC press release strongly suggests that providing information in writing about a job opportunity is a reasonable accommodation for an applicant’s disability and would not constitute an undue hardship.
The lesson here: if you discover that a job applicant needs an accommodation to compete the application process, carefully evaluate the burden to your organization before denying the accommodation.