A Minnesota hospital has agreed to pay $180,000 to a woman who said the hospital refused to hire her because she is deaf.
Kaylah Vogt filed a federal lawsuit last year against North Memorial Health in Robbinsdale, claiming she was discriminated against after the hospital learned of her disability.
A spokesman for the hospital could not immediately be reached on Wednesday, but it has repeatedly denied the discrimination allegations.
Vogt said that in July 2020 she applied for a position as a receptionist at North Memorial Health. The job required welcoming visitors, providing directions, making sure the face mask requirement was followed and reading a script to check for Covid symptoms, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit also said greeters had access to a sign displaying images associated with Covid symptoms that could be used to communicate with hospital visitors.
Vogt met with a recruiter and a manager at a recruiting firm that North Memorial Health uses to fill temporary positions. According to the lawsuit, his interview with the manager was conducted through a video relay service with an American Sign Language interpreter.
The lawsuit said that Vogt informed the recruiting company that she was deaf. She noted that she can communicate verbally and with sign language, and she wears hearing aids that help her hear people speak «without any difficulty.» The lawsuit said Ella Vogt could perform the job duties of a receptionist.
The manager told Vogt they would need to contact North Memorial Health about his disability, according to the lawsuit. Shortly thereafter, the hospital told the recruiting manager that they would not be able to move forward with his application, according to the lawsuit. The manager relayed the news to Vogt, he said.
A spokesperson for North Memorial Health could not immediately be reached Wednesday.
The hospital repeatedly denied the allegations in court documents filed in response to the lawsuit, stating that it «did not engage in any alleged illegal employment practice, did not discriminate against Kaylah Vogt, did not fail to accommodate Vogt.»
In court documents, the hospital acknowledged that it was contacted by the recruiting firm about a candidate described as «hearing impaired.» The hospital said it was never given a name for the candidate and is not aware of what the manager told Vogt.
The hospital had asked that the suit be dismissed. But on Thursday he reached a consent decree, meaning he would accept a $180,000 settlement without admitting any wrongdoing. In addition, the hospital must review its employment policies related to disability discrimination, make any changes that violate the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and train managers and supervisors on laws that prohibit discrimination.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which filed the lawsuit on Vogt’s behalf, said it was «satisfied» with the decree.
«Unfortunately, some employers continue to discriminate against deaf applicants based on myths, fears, and stereotypes about their ability to do the job because of their disability.» saying Gregory Gochanour, attorney for the agency.
Vogt spoke about his experience in a article 2021 with the College of Continuing and Professional Studies at the University of Minnesota, where she studied Integrated Behavioral Health. She said she had been repeatedly denied jobs because of her disability.
«This time, I took legal action…Ultimately, it affected my career choices and how I function in the world,» he said.