Deaf job seeker wins $225,000 settlement from Portland software company and recruiting firm after discrimination claim
A major Portland software company and its recruitment agency will each pay $112,500 to a deaf candidate who claims he refused to hire him because he asked for a sign language interpreter during his job interview.
Viewpoint Construction Software’s technology helps contractors plan and manage large projects. His recruiting firm, Seattle-based CampusPoint Corp., focuses on connecting companies with candidates right out of school.
The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued the two companies last fall on behalf of Indigo Matthew, a Portland man who applied to work as a Viewpoint product and pricing analyst. in 2018. The EEOC alleged that Matthew made an initial screening through a video relay service and then requested an American Sign Language interpreter for a group interview at Viewpoint.
The companies refused to pay the interpreter, according to the EEOC, because they “wrongly assumed that Matthew would need a full-time interpreter if hired for the analyst position.” The federal agency said Matthew could lip-read in conversations with individuals, but sought out the interpreter as he would be speaking to a group.
The EEOC alleged that Viewpoint did not hire Matthew because of his request for accommodation and was unable to persuade CampusPoint to reconsider the matter.
The settlement, filed last week in U.S. District Court in Portland, requires both companies to take steps to ensure they comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, notify employees and job applicants of their legal rights, conduct individual assessments of accommodations needed for job applicants to perform the work and create an appeal process if it denies employees with disabilities or applicants’ accommodation requests.
EEOC attorney Teri Healy said she hopes cases like Matthew’s will help raise awareness that deaf workers are often able to thrive without major accommodations.
“The job may have been done in a particular way in the past, but there are ways to do it…that he can still do the job fully,” Healy said. “But maybe it’s just in a different way than what’s been done in the past.”
Viewpoint, headquartered at the east end of the Hawthorne Bridge, declined to comment on the settlement.
It was among Portland’s biggest tech companies when it was sold to a California-based company called Trimble in 2018. At the time, the $1.2 billion deal was the biggest ever for a technology company. software from Portland, which was generating about $200 million in annual revenue at the time.