Deaf Job Applicant Sues NYC Transportation Authority for Discrimination and Failure to Accommodate

The Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) is being sued by a deaf man who applied for three different jobs but was unable to complete the application and testing process because he was denied a sign language interpreter.

Kenneth Frilando has been deaf since birth, which has affected his ability to learn language and he has difficulty communicating in English, according to the complaint. He communicates primarily using American Sign Language (ASL).

In April 2017 Frilando applied for a job with the MTA as a train operator. When he registered to take the required multiple-choice examination he requested an ASL interpreter for the purpose of understanding the instructions and test questions.

The MTA told Frilando that he could have an interpreter for the instructions, but not the questions on the exam. A short time later MTA got back in touch with Frilando and denied his request for an interpreter altogether.

In November 2017 Frilando applied for the job of a bus driver. Again, he requested an interpreter but received no response from the MTA. When he applied for a track worker position in April 2018 and requested an interpreter, he was told by a representative of the MTA that he would not be provided one and he should not show up for the examination.

Frilando claims that he “would be able to pass the examination with the reasonable accommodation of an in-person ASL interpreter to interpret all of the examinations and their respective instructions.”

The MTA discriminated against Frilando on the basis of his disability by “failing to make reasonable accommodations . . . [and] denying employment opportunities based on the need to make such accommodations,” according to the complaint.

Frilando is represented by Eric Baum who filed the case in the Southern District of New York.