There are two basic things an employer should look for and be concerned about in an employee.
The employee’s qualifications and efficiency.
Any other thing aside these two will automatically be considered workplace discrimination.
Discrimination in the workplace is illegal and can arise in various forms and manners such as prejudices against your skin type, sex, race, color, heritage, country of origin, religion, genetic factors, age, and all forms of disability.
Deafness is a condition in which an individual cannot hear or is hearing impaired. An individual can be completely or partially hard of hearing.
Hearing impairment is classified as a disability if and when an individual undergoes a word recognition test from an examiner and scores 60% or less. Only then will such an individual be termed as having a disability.
This is because the senses, activities, and quality of performance have become impaired and are now limited.
Most of these discriminations carried out on employees are only assumptions by the employers due to fear of inadequacy even before the individual’s effort is put to trial. Thus, an employer should carry out this test on the employee and not just rely on mere assumptions.
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- Can One Be Fired for Being Hearing Impaired?
Can One Be Fired for Being Hearing Impaired?
If you are hired regardless of your disability, then YES, you can be fired because you are hearing impaired.
However, it is circumstantial and can happen in 3 cases.
The first is illegal on the part of the employer, which makes it discrimination, the second enables the employer to carry out such an act on you, and the third is a situation that arises from your incompetence that is independent of your disability.
Case 1: Discrimination by the Employer
For instance, an employee can be qualified for a major task, promotion, or salary raise, but is hearing impaired. Another employee who is not as qualified is chosen instead, just because the qualified one is deaf.
This is daylight discrimination against the employee who is hearing impaired. This employee has the right to sue and take legal action against the employer.
Employees who are hearing impaired should not be treated differently from those without disabilities by employers; fellow employees should avoid repeated harassment and hostility towards the individual either with words or through actions.
If the employee is treated thus, then it is a violation of the laws that protect individuals with disabilities.
Discrimination can, therefore, be eradicated and a harmonious environment can be built and adopted at the workplace as seen below.
Proper Communication with People with Hearing Impairment
Ensuring effective communication at the workplace can save a lot of time and eradicate unnecessary discrimination in the work environment.
The following are some ways that can help to produce a friendly and habitable work environment for the employer, the hearing impaired, and other colleagues:
- Make sure that you aren’t far away from the hearing impaired individual when talking/handing out instructions. If possible, be in the same room or very close to them
- Talk slowly, clearly, and coherently without exaggerated shouts because the hearing impaired may be sensitive to loud noise, voices, or sounds
- Avoid complex sentences and adopt simple sentences. Pause between your sentences so that during lip reading by the hearing impaired, assimilating whatever you are saying or instructing will be relatively easy and accurate
- Avoid covering your face, eating, drinking, chewing, or smoking when communicating with a hearing-impaired person as this can hinder accuracy in understanding what is being said
- Make use of pen and paper to write out specific instructions, important details, or words if you need to communicate something real quick. Make sure to always have a pen and paper around because it never goes wrong
- If the individual is hearing impaired in only one ear, try your possible best to always remember and speak closely into the good/hearing ear
Case 2: Exception, Allowed for the Employer
The employee with a hearing impairment should be given accessories that can help with the efficient delivery of assigned tasks, especially if the hearing impairment is extreme.
There should be the provision of measured breaks in between tasks for the individual with this hearing impairment so that the workload doesn’t cause a breakdown or inefficiency.
However, the only exception to this case is if the provisions, which will be of aid to the hearing impaired individual, cannot be afforded by the business or organization or would make the organization non-existent.
Then the employer would not be blamed for letting the individual go.
So even if you go ahead to take legal actions, the law would most likely be in favor of the employer because you did not get fired as discrimination against your disability, but only as a result that the employer wasn’t able to afford the required provisions that can aid your work.
If the above happens to you and you find it difficult to find gainful employment, then you can apply for SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) – a monthly allowance allotted to disabled individuals who are not able to work or whose disabilities hinder them from working & earning.
The allowance can help with your everyday expenses like food, accommodation, bills, medical expenses, and others.
Case 3: Getting Fired as a Result of Incompetency that is Independent of Your Hearing Impairment
Every human being – disabled or not – has the capability of becoming irresponsible when it comes to handling responsibilities at the workplace. Some individuals can decide to leave out required tasks for no justifiable reason.
This irresponsible and incompetent act can cause the organization to fall short of expectations and, in the long run, will eventually affect the overall functioning of the business.
If you become such an individual for no just reason and you so happen to be hard of hearing, it can aggravate an employer to get you fired even if the employer was considering not firing you because of your disability.
This is especially the case if you refuse to become responsible for your actions after the excuses afforded to you by your employer have been exhausted.
In this situation, you’re the cause of your predicament because your dismissal is independent of your hearing impairment. You’re able to work even with your impairment but have chosen to act irresponsibly.
Sadly, in the event of such an occurrence, the employers are usually blamed because it is easy for the hearing impaired employee to claim that the dismissal is a result of the impairment. And this will wrongly be termed as an act of discrimination by the employer.