Ruffa v. The Society for Human Resource Management
On July 20, 2021, DRA filed a class action lawsuit against the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) on behalf of Deaf Human Resource (HR) professionals who do not have equal access to SHRM’s services because SHRM fails to provide accommodations like sign language interpreters, captioning, and timely transcripts for SHRM’s continuing education programming.
SHRM is the largest professional human resources membership association in the world and provides some of the most widely recognized HR professional certifications. Read the complaint here.
SHRM offers popular certifications for HR professionals that are critical for career advancement and skills development. Individuals may obtain these certifications through examinations and must maintain them through re-examination or continuing education. SHRM offers courses to prepare for its certification examinations as well as a variety of programming, most of which is eligible for credit-earning toward recertification.
Although SHRM offers training about how HR professionals can help their companies comply with disability law and provide accommodations to employees, it fails to provide consistent, reliable accommodations to Deaf professionals to access its own services, subjecting them instead to a different and worse experience than hearing people. Plaintiffs cannot tell in advance if SHRM’s advertised educational content will be offered in an accessible format, such as with closed captioning or live sign language interpretation. SHRM does not provide clear instructions on how individuals can request accommodations. And even if Plaintiffs and other Deaf SHRM customers are able to make such a request through SHRM’s convoluted customer service systems, the request is often mishandled and results at best in inadequate and delayed accommodations.
SHRM’s failure to provide equal access to its content to Deaf members and potential members violates the Americans with Disabilities Act and California state disability access laws.
This lawsuit aims to require SHRM to ensure that its services are made and maintained accessible to individuals who are Deaf, pursuant to the ADA and related state laws.