Lawsuit in Federal Court to Protect the Rights of NYPD Officers with Hearing Impairments

November 10, 2014  Disability Rights Advocates, a national leader in civil rights litigation on behalf of persons with disabilities, has joined the Law Offices of Meenan and Associates in challenging a Department-wide policy that discriminates against NYPD officers who use hearing aids, regardless of how well they do their jobs.

The Plaintiffs, former Sergeant James Phillips and former Deputy Inspector Daniel Carione, both suffered hearing loss in the line of duty and have exemplary records in their service to the citizens of New York City both before and after their injuries.  However, the Department has chosen to end their careers as police officers based on a discriminatory, blanket policy that prohibits employment of any officers who use hearing aids.

DRA recognizes the harmful impact this policy has on the vast numbers of potential police officers with hearing impairments, including many servicemen and women who are returning from overseas deployments with combat-related hearing loss and who are choosing to dedicate their lives to law enforcement and public service.  Such blanket policies are prohibited by the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the New York City Human Rights Law.

Trial in the case is scheduled for February 23, 2015 and is open to the public.   Former officers Phillips and Carione have offered to work with the City towards a resolution of the case if the City agrees to remove the discriminatory policy and agrees to consider each officer’s ability to perform his or her job duties on an individual basis with accommodations.  Thus far, the City has not responded to their offer.

As Plaintiff James Phillips states, “My career with the NYPD was the highlight of my life until I was forced to retire. During my career in the NYPD I performed exceptionally both before and after my use of hearing aids, this current policy is unacceptable!”

Plaintiff Daniel Carione also states, “I proudly served the City for more than 20 years. During my time with the NYPD I held many prestigious, demanding posts and performed to the highest levels expected by the Department. In fact, I was at the height of my career when I was forced into requirement because of my use of a hearing aid. The hearing aid ban is discriminatory and baseless. It must be defeated. On behalf of all those affected by hearing loss requiring the use of hearing aid (s) who are  currently serving or one day hope to serve with the NYPD, we remain committed to defeating the NYPD’s hearing aid ban.”

DRA attorney Rebecca Rodgers stated, “It is shameful that, as we approach the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, large public entities continue to maintain blanket prohibitions against persons with disabilities that are supported by no more than perception and prejudice.”

Plaintiffs’ attorney Colleen M. Meenan stated, “We are proud to work with Dan and Jim who are courageous men seeking justice, not just for themselves but also for other qualified individuals who wish to dedicate their lives to public service.”

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.

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: