[Nfbc-info] law suit claims Marriott discriminates against blind employees

ckrugman at sbcglobal.net ckrugman at sbcglobal.net
Mon Feb 11 02:09:25 UTC 2013

Contact: Jinny Kim, 415-864-8848, 
jkim at las-elc.org,
Timothy Elder, 410-415-3493, 
telder at 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 
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
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
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 | 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
About the TRE Legal Practice | 
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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