[Nfbnet-members-list] Lawyers Seeking Help with Marriott Lawsuit

Freeh, Jessica JFreeh at nfb.org
Thu Feb 21 01:48:53 UTC 2013

The attorneys listed below are interested in 
talking with any current or former blind or print 
disabled employees or applicants from the 
Marriott hotel chain.  The attorneys represent a 
group of blind or print disabled persons who were 
denied advancement or other employment 
opportunities because of Marriott’s use of 
inaccessible computer software and its failure to 
reasonably accommodate persons using JAWS and 
other screen readers.  Please liberally share 
this notice and the below press release with your 
networks so we can get the message out to those 
blind persons who might benefit from participating in this class action.


Contact:  Jinny Kim, 415-864-8848, 
<mailto:jkim at las-elc.org>jkim at las-elc.org, www.las-elc.org
                Timothy Elder, 410-415-3493, 
<mailto:telder at trelegal.com>telder at trelegal.com, www.trelegal.com


(SAN DIEGO, CA, February 6, 2013) – Today, the 
Legal Aid Society – Employment Law Center 
(LAS-ELC) and TRE Legal filed a class action 
lawsuit in federal court against Marriott, 
alleging that the hotel giant discriminates 
against blind and disabled employees by requiring 
its managers to use inaccessible computer 
software and rejecting accessible alternatives.

Ali Faraj is a blind Marriott employee who has 
been excluded from advancement to a management 
position with Marriott based on the hotel chain’s 
requirement that managers use a Sales Force 
Automation (SFA) software program by the Oracle 
Corporation called Siebel CRM (Customer Relation 
Management).  Despite requests, Marriott has 
refused to configure or modify its SFA software 
so that disabled persons such as Mr. Faraj who 
use screen-reading software can serve as managers.

Mr. Faraj has worked for the Marriot hotel chain 
since 2005, and is currently an Event Billing 
Specialist at the San Diego Marriott 
Marquis.  Like other blind employees of Marriott, 
Mr. Faraj uses computers by relying on JAWS 
screen reader software, a program that translates 
computer text into audible speech or refreshable 
Braille data.  JAWS enables blind people and 
others with reading and print disabilities to 
access documents and digital information on 
computers and thus become productive and independent workers.

“I have a B.A. in Hospitality Business, and more 
than ten years of experience in the industry, 
including my nearly eight successful years with 
Marriott.  I want to advance,” said Mr. 
Faraj.  “But Marriott managers keep telling me 
that I cannot be promoted into a position 
requiring use of Siebel CRM.  That’s not fair.”

He added that a Marriott HR manager has 
acknowledged that he is more qualified than other 
candidates placed by Marriott into management.

The lawsuit alleges that there are 
nondiscriminatory alternatives to Marriott’s 
current software system, including replacing 
Siebel CRM with alternative, JAWS-accessible SFA 
software, updating and upgrading the existing 
Seibel CRM software to make it JAWS-accessible 
system-wide, and adding individualized 
modifications or scripts to the existing Seibel 
CRM software to make it JAWS-accessible to particular individuals.

“Marriott contends that it would cost more than 
$1,000,000 to fix the problems,” said Timothy 
Elder, a principle of TRE Legal and an attorney 
for Mr. Faraj.  “That is just not the case.  One 
solution would cost less than $50,000 and would 
open up competitive employment opportunities for 
many blind and disabled Marriott workers.

Mr. Elder further disputed that the fix would 
impose an undue hardship on the 
company.  According to reports, Marriott 
International had revenues of $12.3 billion for 
2011, and has assets worth $5.9 billion; Host 
Marriott has assets totaling $11.3 billion.

In recent months, Marriott has expanded the 
Seibel CRM software configuration, integrating 
additional computer programs into the 
inaccessible platform.  This expansion further 
threatens the employment opportunities of Mr. 
Faraj and other blind and disabled employees by 
reaching additional jobs at Marriott.

“The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits 
employers from using selection criteria and 
methods of administration that exclude persons 
with disabilities,” said Jinny Kim, senior staff 
attorney with LAS-ELC and counsel for Mr. 
Faraj.  “This case seeks to dismantle unnecessary 
barriers created by an employer’s technology.”

The class action lawsuit requests a determination 
from the court that Marriott is in violation of 
the Americans with Disabilities Act, and a court 
order requiring Marriott to make the required 
changes to its software system and related 
policies on behalf of a class of affected 
workers.  The case also seeks damages and other relief for Mr. Faraj.

Lawyers on the case are interested in speaking 
with any Marriott employee who uses 
screen-reading software.  They may also be 
contacted to set up telephone interviews with Mr. Faraj.


About the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law 
Center   |   <http://www.las-elc.org>www.las-elc.org
Founded in 1916, the Legal Aid Society-Employment 
Law Center protects the rights and economic 
self-sufficiency of working poor people and 
marginalized communities by providing free legal 
services, education, and advocacy. Using the law 
as a tool, we help low-wage workers create the 
best possible future for themselves and their families.

About the TRE Legal Practice   |   <http://www.trelegal.com>www.trelegal.com
Founded by attorney Timothy Elder, TRE Legal is a 
civil rights law firm fighting discrimination 
against disabled people and specializing in the 
rights of the blind to access employment, 
education, government programs, public 
accommodations, accessible technology and  all other aspects of society.

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