Deaf woman fired for being 'loud' awarded £588k

Deaf woman fired for being 'loud' awarded £588k

A woman has been awarded almost £588,000 after she was fired for being too "loud" – despite this being caused by her deafness.

The Miami New Times reports that Christine D'Onofrio was fired from her job at Costco in 2013, where she had been working for 14 years.

She said she had been begging for the company to better accommodate her disability, but instead her managers accused her of being “loud and aggressive” and brought in an interpreter to have her fired.

"She was fired and lost literally her entire purpose," says D'Onofrio's attorney, Chad Levy. "No spouse or kids. Costco was her life and how she would communicate with the outside world."

"This is not like a regular person losing a job and moving on. She had nowhere else to go."

Costco argued that D'Onofrio was fired because she was unable to control her temper, but D’Onofrio explained that one of her managers missed the sensitivity training where he would have learned that when deaf people yell, it's not because they are angry.

Jurors last month decided that Costco failed to reasonably accommodate D'Onofrio, and she was awarded $750,000 (£587,775) for emotional pain and anguish and $25,000 (£18,954) in punitive damages.

A recent survey by charity Action on Hearing Loss found that more than half of people living with deafness and hearing loss feel they can’t be open about it in the workplace.

A third of those who felt they could not be open about their hearing loss said it was due to the fear that they would be treated unfairly at work. A further 60% felt that that others would assume they weren’t competent and 42% saw no point because their workplace wouldn’t be able to help them.

“The prevalence of hearing loss is only going to increase, so it’s therefore essential that employers take note of these findings and create a working environment where people feel both able and welcome to disclose disabilities and sensory impairments,” said Paul Breckell, Chief Executive at Action on Hearing Loss.

“It’s shocking that in 2018, and despite a lot of work by governments and employers to encourage more inclusivity and accessibility, people with deafness and hearing loss feel they can’t be open about it.”

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