UPDATE – Jury Trial in Federal Court to Protect the Rights of NYPD Officers with Hearing Impairments

We are canceling today’s 4PM press conference because we are close to reaching a last minute settlement agreement. DRA will issue a media release with settlement details soon and appreciates your patience.

New York, NY – March 9th, 2015 – Disability Rights Advocates and the Law Offices of Meenan and Associates begin a federal jury trial today challenging a department-wide policy that discriminates against NYPD officers who use hearing aids, regardless of how well they do their jobs. The trial is open to the public.

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.

This policy has a harmful impact 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 do not exist in many other jurisdictions, are prohibited by the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the New York City Human Rights Law.

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 retirement 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.”

“People with hearing loss who are capable of doing their jobs should not be excluded from the workplace simply because they wear hearing aids,” states Anna Gilmore Hall, executive director of Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA). “We stand with all working Americans with hearing loss who wish NYPD Deputy Inspector Daniel Carione and Sargent James Phillips a speedy and successful trial.”

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, rrodgers@dralegal.org

Stuart Seaborn, 212-644-8644, sseaborn@dralegal.org

Colleen M. Meenan, 212-226-7334, cmm@meenanesqs.com

Shelley Ann Quilty-Lake, 212-226-7334, sql@meenanesqs.com