Woman, 26, wins 0,000 payout from Minnesota hospital that ‘fired’ her for being DEAF

Woman, 26, wins $180,000 payout from Minnesota hospital that ‘fired’ her for being DEAF

A 26-year-old woman has been awarded a $180,000 payout after she sued a Minnesota hospital for refusing her a job because she is deaf.

Kaylah Vogt obtained a consent order in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis on Thursday. This means North Memorial Health has admitted no wrongdoing, but has agreed to make the payout and other actions addressed in the lawsuit.

Vogt claimed she applied to be a greeter at Robbinsdale’s health system hospital, but despite her qualifications, she was denied the job because the pandemic’s masking rules meant she would struggle to read lips while on the job.

She has since founded Healing Signs, a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide mental health services to the deaf and hard of hearing after being repeatedly disappointed in finding work.

Kaylah Vogt, 26, has settled a federal lawsuit and received $180,000 from a Minnesota hospital that she alleges denied her a job as a greeter because she is deaf

Vogt is a student at the University of Minnesota’s College of Continuing and Professional Studies and was featured in a college article in August 2021, recalling her experience with North Memorial Health and her belief that she had been hired.

“After I self-identified as a person with deafness and asked for a reasonable accommodation, I was immediately dismissed with no further attempt from them to work with me,” she said.

“Ultimately, it influenced my career choices and how I navigate the world.”

Gregory Gochanour, a regional attorney for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in Chicago, who sued on Vogt’s behalf, told the Star Tribune that unfortunately discrimination is widespread.

“Unfortunately, some employers continue to discriminate against deaf applicants based on myths, fears and stereotypes about their ability to do the job because of their disability,” he said.

Julianne Bowman, EEOC Chicago District Manager, said the consent decree is hopefully the first step towards change.

“The Consent Decree’s requirement to educate managers and supervisors involved in hiring decisions on anti-discrimination provisions is critical to eliminating discrimination against disabled applicants,” she said.

The 26-year-old claimed she applied to be a greeter at North Memorial Health's hospital in Robbinsdale but was denied the job despite her qualifications because of the pandemic masking rules

The 26-year-old claimed she applied to be a greeter at North Memorial Health’s hospital in Robbinsdale but was denied the job despite her qualifications because of the pandemic masking rules

North Memorial denied the allegations, but highlighted in the court filing the challenges greeters were experiencing at the time due to the pandemic and the need for

North Memorial denied the allegations, but highlighted in the court filing the challenges greeters were experiencing at the time due to the pandemic and the need for “strong listening and verbal communication skills when interacting with individuals experiencing stress/grief.” Your CEO Dr. J Kevin Croston pictured

In July 2020, Vogt applied through a recruitment firm to be a greeter, but North Memorial took a different route, although she was qualified for the job and performed her essential functions, including: “Greeting visitors, applying COVID-19 masking standards and guidelines.” ‘Give directions and keep the area clean and welcoming.’

The lawsuit also pointed out that Vogt wears hearing aids that allow her to “hear people speak with ease.” Vogt can communicate verbally [and] can also communicate with American Sign Language.’

North Memorial denied the allegations, but highlighted in the court filing the challenges greeters were experiencing at the time due to the pandemic and the need for “strong listening and verbal communication skills when interacting with individuals experiencing stress/grief.”

The filing states that greeters must “communicate quickly and concisely with visitors regarding the visitor policy, assess visitor understanding and compliance with visitors, and troubleshoot errors [while] Communication has been significantly hampered by COVID-required face masks.

North Memorial said in a statement: “We recognize that [hiring] Existing processes for temporary positions may have been impacted during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and we understand Ms. Vogt’s disappointment with the decisions made at the time.

‘We have reviewed certain practices following this case and will continue to strive to ensure that our customers, our current, former and future team members and our vendors feel valued and respected.’

Since then, Vogt has founded Healing Signs, a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide mental health services to the deaf and hard of hearing after they have been repeatedly disappointed in finding work

Since then, Vogt has founded Healing Signs, a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide mental health services to the deaf and hard of hearing after they have been repeatedly disappointed in finding work

Gregory Gochanour, a regional attorney with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in Chicago who sued on Vogt's behalf, said discrimination was unfortunately widespread

Gregory Gochanour, a regional attorney with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in Chicago who sued on Vogt’s behalf, said discrimination was unfortunately widespread

Under the requirements of the consent decree, which is valid for two years, North Memorial must: “Apply its anti-discrimination and reasonable accommodation policies for the disabled to all applicants and employees hired to work at North Memorial Health, whether or not they be hired directly by North Memorial or through a staffing firm.’

It is also committed to: “to make reasonable accommodation unless doing so would result in undue hardship on the healthcare system or a direct threat, to submit to the EEOC any complaints of non-employment or non-placement due to disability, and to provide training to staff, involved in the hiring process.’

The $180,000 payment covers $75,000 in punitive damages, approximately $44,000 in back payments and approximately $61,000 to cover her legal fees.

Vogt is no stranger to discrimination, describing in the 2021 article with the University of Minnesota that she was “denied her first real job at a drug store because she couldn’t answer the phone.”

“Looking back, I realized that this was a case of unlawful discrimination because a reasonable accommodation could have been made,” she said at the time.

She was eventually hired by another manager but discouraged from becoming a pharmacy technician.

“Their training videos had no subtitles and they kicked me out without adequate training,” she said.

Kaylah went on to work for five different companies, and when the pandemic hit, she applied for an entry-level position at North Memorial Health.

In 2021, Vogt also took to YouTube to share her disheartening experience with #23andme, a genetics company that wanted to share her story during Deaf Awareness Month but refused to let her tell her story in ASL

In 2021, Vogt also took to YouTube to share her disheartening experience with #23andme, a genetics company that wanted to share her story during Deaf Awareness Month but refused to let her tell her story in ASL

Vogt is no stranger to discrimination, and in the 2021 article with the University of Minnesota describes that her

Vogt is no stranger to discrimination, describing in the 2021 article with the University of Minnesota that she was “denied her first real job at a drug store because she couldn’t answer the phone.”

In 2021, Vogt also took to YouTube to share her disheartening experience with #23andme, a genetics company that wanted to share her story during Deaf Awareness Month but refused to let her tell her story in ASL.

“I wanted to find out why I’m deaf, so I took a DNA test with 23andMe and found out that my deafness is genetic,” she said.

“I have chosen to submit my story to 23andMe to share how my deafness is genetic and how I experience the gift of sign language – American Sign Language.

“They reached out to me and said they loved my story, it’s so powerful,” and they want to introduce me for Deaf Awareness Month.

“I replied, I said ‘yes let’s do it’ and I let them know that I wanted to do my story in ASL because that’s what my story is about – ASL.

But Vogt claimed 23andMe denied her request.

“They didn’t let me tell my story in ASL because it didn’t fit the context. So I decided to take the story into my own hands,” she said of posting the video on YouTube.

According to the United States Census Bureau, about 11.5 million Americans have “some type of hearing impairment, ranging from difficulty hearing conversations to complete hearing loss.”

“That’s about 3.5 percent of the population,” the website says.

“In addition, around 50 million of our population suffer from tinnitus, a constant ringing in the ears.”