The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) puts forth federal laws to protect employees with any of several qualifying disabilities, physical or mental, from workplace discrimination in Kentucky and the rest of the United States. One of the disabilities protected by the law is hearing impairment, which is fairly common.

According to a Johns Hopkins study, almost 20% of Americans age 12 or older have severe hearing impairment, making communication challenging for them. Other researchers said that about 17% of U.S. adults reported having some sort of impaired hearing — at least 36 million people. Some are born with impaired hearing, and others may lose their hearing ability due to a medical condition, accident, working close to loud noises, aging or other causes. Regardless of how someone came to be hearing impaired, it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against a worker because of their disability.

The ADA requires private workplaces of 15 or more employees, as well as government employers, to make reasonable accommodations for workers who have impaired hearing based on their unique needs. The adjustments are to aid the employees in performing their essential job functions. These accommodations are considered “reasonable” if they do not incur significant difficulty or undue cost to the employer.

Accommodations an employer may provide can include one or more of the following:

  • Assistive technology, like a TTY, text telephone or similar device
  • Written memos and notes
  • Voice recognition or other assistive listening and translation software
  • A sign language interpreter for large meetings
  • Moving to a workspace farthest away from loud noises
  • Changing the employee’s non-essential job tasks
  • Time off to assist with disability-related issues
  • Other modifications to the job or work area

If you have been discriminated against in the workplace because of your hearing impairment or other disability, you may have a credible claim. It’s important you understand your legal rights and make use of the protections the law provides. An experienced Louisville attorney who practices employment law can help you get fair treatment under the law.