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# Workplace discrimination for persons with hearing loss: Before and after the 2008 ADA Amendments Act

### BACKGROUND:

Individuals with hearing loss experience unique barriers to employment frequently documented in the areas of communication and education. The purpose of this article is to contribute to extend this inquiry to the uniqueness of workplace discrimination involving persons with hearing loss.

### OBJECTIVE:

This study investigated differences in allegations of workplace discrimination filed by persons with hearing loss (“Hearing”) compared to those filed by persons with other physical or neurological disabilities (General Disability, or “GENDIS”) before and after the enactment of the 2008 Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (2008 Amendments).

### METHODS:

Using secondary data collected from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Integrated Mission System, we employ simple measures of proportion and odds ratios to describe differences between allegations derived from GENDIS and Hearing loss populations. These are population statistics, and not samples, of all allegations of discrimination reported to the EEOC through 2016. The comparisons involve Characteristics of the Charging Parties, Issues or discriminatory behaviors alleged, and closure statuses or Merit Rate of the EEOC’s investigations – both before and after the 2008 Amendments.

### RESULTS:

Following the 2008 Amendments, Charging Parties changed dramatically on age and gender status. Reasonable Accommodation, Hiring, Harassment, and employment Terms and Conditions showed unique features between groups and/or time periods. The “veracity” (confirmed truthfulness or merit) of the EEOC allegation (or Merit) rate also changed following the Amendments: higher for GENDIS; lower for Hearing.

### CONCLUSIONS:

Possible rationale for these findings are offered, and new research questions are raised. Finally, implications for the cross-disability movement are presented.

## 1Hearing loss and employment overview

### 1.1Three case studies

Consider the challenges for the following individuals with hearing loss who experienced real-world discrimination in the workplace due to varying levels of hearing loss.

• 1. In 2009, charges were brought against a coal producer in Alabama for refusing to accommodate a hard of hearing mineworker. The worker was transferred to a different mine within the company, where his hearing aids were damaged by damp conditions and electromagnetic interference. With poor amplification, the worker experienced a higher risk of accident or injury. Accommodations provided him at the first mine were then refused [1].