Landmark Settlement for NYPD Officers with Hearing Loss
New York, NY – March 17, 2015 –, On the day a jury trial was scheduled to begin, Disability Rights Advocates and the Law Offices of Meenan and Associates entered into a landmark settlement with the NYPD in a case challenging the Department’s discriminatory blanket policy banning the use of hearing aids by police officers. The settlement concludes after four and a half years of hard-fought legal advocacy.
Such blanket policies are prohibited by the Americans with Disabilities Act and the New York City Human Rights Law. The case has attracted national attention and a friend of the court brief opposing the NYPD’s policy was filed by the Hearing Loss Association of America, AARP, and Veterans of Foreign Wars USA.
Under the settlement, the City will reinstate Plaintiff Daniel Carione—a 20 year exemplary veteran of the police force who suffered hearing loss in the line of duty and was forced to retire because he uses hearing aids.
“The settlement provides an opportunity for me to return to the profession and the Department (NYPD) I so dearly love,” states Carione, “But much more importantly it opens wide the door of opportunity to millions of hearing-disabled Americans. Most notable are our returning war veterans, a great many of which have received combat induced hearing loss requiring the use of hearing aids. Many of these brave men and women are deserving of the opportunity to demonstrate they are willing, able, and otherwise capable of performing the essential duties of Police officer with the use of hearing aids.”
Mr. Carione is one of many officers with hearing loss who will benefit from this week’s settlement. The settlement requires the City to review its hearing aid policy and consider evaluating officers with hearing aids on a case-by-case basis while they are wearing their hearing aids.
While the policy review takes place, all officers who use hearing aids will have the opportunity to meet the NYPD’s hearing standards while wearing hearing aids and be able to keep their jobs if they do.
Mr. Carione is joined in the settlement agreement by former NYPD sergeant Jim Phillips, currently a police officer in the Village of Brewster. Mr. Phillips stated, “I am glad I was able to be a part of this settlement, which opens the door for current officers who are afraid to come forward to get help for their hearing. They can now get the help they need and continue to serve this great city and its community.”
“Hearing Loss Association of America is thrilled to learn that Deputy Inspector Dan Carione and Sergeant Jim Phillips have reached a positive settlement with the New York City Police Department, said Anna Gilmore Hall, Executive Director of Hearing Loss Association of America. “The perseverance of these two men has paved the way for a hearing aid policy at NYPD that takes into account the performance of the individual, without a preconceived notion of what it means to have hearing aids.”
DRA attorney Stuart Seaborn states, “This settlement represents a huge victory for the hearing loss community. As a result of the settlement, police officers in New York City will have the opportunity to prove that they can effectively serve their communities while using hearing aids.”
Plaintiffs’ attorney Colleen M. Meenan states, “Our victory in this action affirms the valuable contributions that Carione and Phillips have made to the City of New York police department. It also affirms the contributions that other individuals with hearing loss can make to law enforcement agencies both in New York and throughout our country.”
With offices in New York and California, Disability Rights Advocates (DRA) is one of the leading nonprofit disability rights legal centers in the nation. Its mission is to advance equal rights and opportunity for people with all types of disabilities nationwide. In the organization’s 20+ year history, DRA has taken on more than 400 cases and won almost all—achieving dramatic improvements for people with disabilities seeking health care, employment, transportation, education, disaster preparedness planning, voting and housing. Most recently, DRA prevailed in a case that will make New York’s taxi fleet the most wheelchair-accessible in the country. dralegal.org
Meenan & Associates is a small law firm located in New York City devoted to empowering its clients as they face civil rights issues which are often very challenging and demeaning, The firm has a well-established history of achieving positive results for individuals who have been adversely treated on the basis of their disabilities, gender, race, sexual orientation, age, or national origin, or because of complaining of unlawful workplace conduct or policies, or for exercising their rights to engage in protected speech. To find out more about Meenan & Associates, please visit: www.meenanesqs.com
Rebecca Rodgers, 212-644-8644, firstname.lastname@example.org
Stuart Seaborn, 818-261-3484, email@example.com
Colleen M. Meenan, 212-226-7334, firstname.lastname@example.org
Shelley Ann Quilty-Lake, 212-226-7334, email@example.com