Woman Sues Utah School Claiming Hiring Discrimination

May 19, 2006 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A Maryland woman on Wednesday filed a discrimination lawsuit against the Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind (USDB), claiming that the institution refuses to hire her because she is blind.

According to the Deseret Morning News, Mary Jo Thorpe filed the suit in the 3rd District Court in Salt Lake City, arguing that her master’s degree in education with an emphasis on teaching blind students qualifies her for a teaching position at USDB, for which she applied in November 2004.

The position offered was in USDB’s parent-infant program, requiring the specialist to perform visual tracking tests and to teach visual stimulation. Thorpe went to several interviews for the job but was not hired, the newspaper reported.

The suit claims that school officials were concerned whether Thorpe’s blindness would prevent her from performing such tasks, even after Thorpe assured them that she could use alternative techniques to perform all of the required job duties. She said she was told by the officials interviewing her that she had a good chance of getting the job, and that she would be an “excellent role model for blind students.”

Thorpe filed an employment discrimination claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in June of 2005. The EEOC gave Thorpe permission in March to file a civil action against USDB.