[NFBOK-Talk] National Federation of the Blind Applauds Jury Verdict for Montgomery County Woman

Jeannie Massay jmassay1 at cox.net
Tue Mar 1 21:05:07 UTC 2016






Chris Danielsen

Director of Public Relations 

National Federation of the Blind

(410) 659-9314, extension 2330

(410) 262-1281 (Cell)

cdanielsen at nfb.org <mailto:cdanielsen at nfb.org> 


National Federation of the Blind Applauds Jury Verdict for Montgomery County


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
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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