Cheesecake Factory forks over $15,000 for failing to accommodate deaf worker

Cheesecake Factory

In a business Q&A with The Oklahoman, labor and employment attorney Anna Proctor reviewed a recent lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against a restaurant that failed to accommodate the disability of a deaf worker whom it later fired. The agency alleged the restaurant denied the deaf employee’s request for American Sign Language interpretation, as well as for closed-captioned or ASL training videos, and, instead, unilaterally decided to communicate with him using only written notes that were passed back and forth.

According to Proctor, the restaurant eventually settled the case by agreeing to provide closed captioning for all required training and new employee orientation videos, as well as to pay the disabled worker back wages and compensatory damages.

“Employers should take note of this case and settlement and remember that they are required to consider reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities in the workplace,” said Proctor. Employers should communicate and interact with their employees who have disabilities in an effort to identify an accommodation that is reasonable and workable for both the employee and the employer.”