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August 25, 2003

Deaf postal worker alleges Denver managers did not accommodate his disability

From: KUSA, CO - Aug 25, 2003

posted by Web Producer Jeannie Piper

DENVER (AP) - A deaf mail handler filed a federal lawsuit Monday against the U.S. Postal Service, saying managers did not provide reasonable accommodations for deaf workers.

James Gralund worked for the postal service in Denver for almost 22 years. He alleges managers did not provide interpreters during meetings, closed-captioned training videos or other reasonable accommodations.

The practices violate the Americas with Disabilities Act, the suit says.

Al DeSarro, western regional spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service, said he could not comment on the case but said the agency has many deaf employees.

"I think we're pretty pro-active in regards to our training and interaction with employees that are deaf," DeSarro said. "I think this Colorado district has one of the better hiring rates and amounts of employees that are deaf."

According to the suit, Gralund and other deaf workers were often excluded from meetings because a sign language interpreter was not provided. Training videos were not closed captioned, which compounded Gralund's inability to advance professionally, the lawsuit said.

The suit also alleges Gralund did not have access to a phone equipped with a telecommunications device for the deaf.

Gralund filed grievances with the postal service and with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, but practices were not changed, the suit says.

The suit seeks unspecified damages and asks that the alleged discrimination be rectified.

(Copyright 2003 by the Associated Press. All Rights Reserved)