Insurance & Benefits

Lawsuit Forces Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas to Pay $75,000 to Deaf Applicant

A federal judge signed a decree requiring Richardson-based Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas to pay a deaf woman $75,000 and other relief for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, as first reported in the Dallas Morning News.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced the results of its lawsuit against BCBS of Texas this week. According to the lawsuit, a deaf woman named Sheryl Meador applied online to be a claims examiner, and was asked to complete an assessment with an audio portion. The assessment did not have accommodations for hearing-impaired applicants, and Meador was unable to complete it.

The suit, which was filed in the Northern District of Texas, says that Meador contacted the insurer making her aware of her disability, but the company stopped communicating with her before she received any accommodations. The EEOC says that BCBS violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, which protects disabled employees from discrimination based on their disabilities and requires employers to make reasonable accommodations. The suit was brought after attempting to settle our of court.

In addition to the financial penalty, the decree said that BCBS of Texas must conduct yearly training on the ADA and will inform applicants and employees with disabilities of their rights, which includes reasonable accommodation of a disability. BCBS will also have to implement a policy for communicating with deaf applicants and remove illegal obstacles to employment.

“Like so many other people with or without disabilities, Ms. Meador just wanted the opportunity to work,” said EEOC Trial Attorney Heather Nodler via release. “She was well-qualified for this position, irrespective of the nature of her disability. Unfortunately, however, the application process became a needless roadblock to her employment.”

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas does not comment on litigation.

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