Feature Writer Romeo Edmead – Educational Institute Needs to Learn A Lesson

After applying for a job, Kerry Kirksey learned that part of the application process included answering some questions online. Much to his delight, Mr. Kirksey determined he could answer everything correctly, but he would soon discover that he was in for a completely different type of exam. Mr. Kirksey, a California resident, is blind, and the speech program in his computer did not enable him to answer the questions in a timely manner. Mr. Kirksey informed the company, ITT Technical Institute, of his dilemma, and even presented them with two possible solutions, but they completely ignored his suggestions and denied his application.

Mr. Kirksey informed his potential employer that either providing a reader or allowing more time to complete the application would work just fine, but ITT Tech simply balked at both ideas. Even after Mr. Kirksey’s job developer contacted the company to educate them of the fact that they were breaking the law, ITT Tech still chose not to budge. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) reasonable accommodations must be provided, and discrimination based on disability is absolutely prohibited.

Now instead of Mr. Kirksey and his job developer, ITT Tech has to deal with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) who has filed a law suit. Along with several other requests, the suit seeks punitive and monetary damages, and calls for corrective action.

EEOC’s legal team cannot comprehend why this had to become so difficult. Their regional attorney, William R. Tamayo, said, “In this case, a simple accommodation of additional time or a reader would have enabled Mr. Kirksey to complete the application process and would not have cost a dime. There really is no reason ITT Tech should have denied the accommodation.”

Mr. Kirksey was just as befuddled with the decision not to offer accommodations, and was disappointed with ITT Tech’s unwillingness to cooperate. ITT Tech provides secondary and post secondary degree programs in technology, and Mr. Kirksey relished the thought of being a member of the team. He said, “I had received computer training from a school like ITT Tech and worked in the computer industry for five years, so I was excited by the opportunity to help other people discover the benefits of this kind of school.”

Luckily for Mr. Kirksey and others in his predicament, the ADA was established to abolish behavior like that of ITT Tech’s, but of course there will always be some who try to defy authority. Unfortunately, potential employers can sometimes get of scot free if the victim does not have the proper resources. The EEOC happens to be one of those resources, and among other things they fight to assure that the laws of the ADA are being enforced.
Source: EEOC Press Release, dated September 21, 2011

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