A Win for Police Officers with Hearing Aids: HLAA Was There to Help

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A Win for Police Officers with Hearing Aids: HLAA Was There to Help

Wed, 03/11/2015

Photo of team: L-R: Stuart Seaborn, Disability Rights Advocates; Shelly Ann Quilty-Lake, Meenan and Associates; Rebecca Rodgers, DRA; Dan Carione, plaintiff; Jerry Bergman, HLAA NYC; Colleen Meenan, Meenan and Associates; and plaintiff Jim Phillips.
L-R: Stuart Seaborn, Disability Rights Advocates; Shelly Ann Quilty-Lake, Meenan and Associates;
Rebecca Rodgers, DRA; Dan Carione, plaintiff; Jerry Bergman, HLAA NYC; Colleen Meenan, Meenan
and Associates; and plaintiff Jim Phillips.

In 2010, HLAA received a phone call from New York Police Department (NYPD) Deputy Inspector Daniel Carione. He was being forced to retire from the NYPD. His crime? He purchased and used a hearing aid on the job. NYPD bans the use of hearing aids on the job, regardless of how well that officer does his or her job.

In 2011, his story hit the New York Times. Brenda Battat, executive director of HLAA at that time, wrote a letter to the editor. Here is Battat’s letter. A Google search will yield many news stories on this case if you want to read more about it.

Five long years later, Deputy Inspector Dan Carione’s case, and that of NYPD Sergeant James Phillips who was also lost his job because he wore hearing aids, was scheduled for trial March 9, 2015. Instead, NYPD settled the case, offering both officers their jobs back, allowing them to use their hearing aids on the job. Dan Carione will return to the NYPD, but not Jim Phillips because he found a job as a police officer in Brewster Village, New York, where hearing aids are accepted. New York City will also reassess its hearing aid policy and consider testing officers with hearing aids (as opposed to without).  In the meantime, all officers who use hearing aids can be tested with their hearing aids. 

HLAA stood by Carione for the last four years, offering our expertise in hearing loss to help him and his legal counsel build his case. HLAA recently filed a friend of the court brief (amicus brief), drafted by attorneys at Cravath, Swain in New York City. The amicus brief was accepted into the record, and apparently had a positive impact on the court and the settlement process. The amicus brief covers several issues, including: the assumptions made about hearing aids by NYPD were outdated and flawed; NYPD is one of the few police departments that ban hearing aids; and the practice is counterproductive, as it forces officers with hearing loss to hide their disability rather than address it, thus putting officers and the public at risk. Other organizations who signed on to our amicus brief were AARP, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Veterans United for Truth.

Members of the HLAA New York City Chapter were eager to support Deputy Inspector Carione and Sergeant Phillips and ready to attend the trial. HLAA Member Jerry Bergman sent out regular updates to the HLAA NYC Chapter members. We are all thrilled that Dan Carione and Jim Phillips have seen a happy and just ending.

See HLAA's amicus brief.

See the DRA Press release.

See the DRA Press release [PDF]