[Nfbnet-members-list] FW: National Federation of the Blind Applauds Jury Verdict for Montgomery County Woman
KKuhnke at nfb.org
Mon Feb 29 22:15:59 UTC 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Director of Public Relations
National Federation of the Blind
(410) 659-9314, extension 2330
(410) 262-1281 (Cell)
<mailto:cdanielsen at nfb.org>cdanielsen at nfb.org
National Federation of the Blind Applauds Jury Verdict for Montgomery
Jury Finds County Discriminated Against Blind Employee
Greenbelt, Maryland (February 29,2016): The National Federation of
the Blind, the nation's leading advocate for equal access to
employment and technology for the blind, today applauded a jury
verdict reached in the matter of Yasmin Reyazuddin vs. Montgomery
County (Civil Action No. 8:11-cv-00951-DKC) in federal district court
Friday afternoon. The jury found that the county failed to provide
Ms. Reyazuddin, who is blind, with a reasonable accommodation, as
required by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, by refusing to implement
accessible software so that she could continue to work as an
information specialist in the county's 311 call center. Ms.
Reyazuddin worked in the call center of the County's Department of
Health and Human Services until the County consolidated that call
center and others into its Montgomery County 311 Call Center. Ms.
Reyazuddin had been using screen access software, which converts
information on a computer screen into synthesized speech or into
Braille that can be displayed on a device known as a refreshable
Braille display, to access the computer programs with which she
needed to interact in order to provide accurate information to
callers, keep records of calls, and perform other tasks necessary for
resolving the concerns of callers. When she learned that her agency's
call center would be consolidated into the County's new 311 call
center, she repeatedly inquired of County officials whether the
software for the new call center would be accessible and provided
information to the County about accessible solutions. The county
ultimately procured call center software that was not accessibly
configured. Thereafter, the County refused to implement the necessary
changes. As a result, instead of being transferred to the new 311
call center, Ms. Reyazuddin was transferred to make-work positions
which, at best, involved duties that only filled roughly half of her
eight-hour work day. Ms. Reyazuddin filed suit with the assistance of
the National Federation of the Blind in April of 2011. In addition to
its finding that Montgomery County failed to reasonably accommodate
Ms. Reyazuddin, the jury found that the failure to transfer her to
the customer service center was an adverse employment action. The
jury rejected the county's defense that it would have been an undue
hardship to make the customer service center accessible to Ms.
Reyazuddin. Ms. Reyazuddin will now proceed before the Court to seek
injunctive relief ordering the County to make the software accessible.
Mark A. Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind,
said: "Blindness does not define an individual or his or her capacity
to contribute in the workplace, and this was demonstrated by Yasmin
Reyazuddin's ten years of service to Montgomery County prior to this
debacle. The only thing that prevented her from continuing to be an
effective employee was the county's failure to provide the reasonable
accommodation of accessible technology, as the jury found after
careful deliberation. This case underscores the critical importance
of accessible technology for the success of blind workers in the
modern workplace. Generally, as in this case, procuring and deploying
such technology does not place an undue burden on employers. I
encourage all employers to take steps to ensure that their workplace
technologies are accessible at the time they are first implemented so
that the technology does not erect an artificial barrier to people
who are blind."
Ms. Reyazuddin said: "I am grateful to the men and women of the jury
for their time and their careful consideration of my case. My only
desire throughout this litigation has been to work at my full
capacity and serve the good people of Montgomery County by providing
them with the information they need. Thanks to this verdict, I
believe that I will soon be able to achieve this goal."
Ms. Reyazuddin is represented by Joseph B. Espo and Daniel F.
Goldstein of the Baltimore firm Brown, Goldstein, and Levy LLP, and
by Timothy R. Elder of the TRE Legal Practice of Fremont, California.
About the National Federation of the Blind
The National Federation of the Blind knows that blindness is not the
characteristic that defines you or your future. Every day we raise
the expectations of blind people, because low expectations create
obstacles between blind people and our dreams. You can live the life
you want; blindness is not what holds you back.
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