Ramundo Ruiz worked as a guard at the federal courthouse in Victoria Texas until 2006, when he was fired after failing a hearing test. He was not, however, allowed to use his hearing aids during that test. Mr. Ruiz and others were allowed to wear glasses or contacts during vision tests, but a 2001 rule barred them from wearing hearing aids during the hearing test. Mr. Ruiz filed a federal suit in 2007.
Although the rule has caused dozens of other guards to be fired, this is the first time a jury has decided the matter, according to John Griffin, who represents Mr. Ruiz If the jury’s verdict is upheld, the case could set a precedent for federal court guards around the country, according to Mr. Griffin.
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) was intended to level the playing field for people with disabilities, but a series of recent court rulings have made it difficult to achieve equal opportunity in the workplace. This case, which may well set precedent, together with the new ADA Amendments Act recently signed into law by President Bush, could reverse years of bad court rulings for people with disabilities.
According to the Texas Victoria Advocate, Mr. Ruiz plans to re-apply for his job later this week. “I’m not ready to be put out to pasture,” he told the Advocate, “I loved the people that I worked with.”