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

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 banned 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. In response to the article, Brenda Battat sent the following letter to the editor of the New York Times which was published June 28, 2011

To the Editor:

Re “Ban on Hearing Aids is Forcing Out Veteran New York City Police Officers” (news article, June 19):

Hearing Loss is a health issue that has long been misunderstood and stigmatized in our society. Banning the use of hearing aids that help police officers to function at their best is inconceivable and perpetuates the myths and stereotypes that are still prevalent about hearing loss today.

More important, it puts both the police officer and the public at risk when those who have admitted their hearing loss, sought treatment for it, and can function well with a hearing aid are forced to hide their hearing loss for fear of losing their jobs.

For more than twenty years the Americans with Disabilities Act has provided equal opportunity in the workplace. Banning young police officers from using the excellent hearing aids available today and forcing older police officers with hearing aids to retire is discriminating. As long as they can pass the hearing test with their hearing aids in they should be allowed to use them on the job.

Brenda Battat,Bethesda, Md, June 21, 2011

A letter was also sent to the New York Times by David Gayle, Esq:

To the Editor:

Joseph Goldstein’s insightful article misses two key points. First, he suggests that it is permissible for the NYPD to have a blanket exclusion of all new applicants for police officer positions who have a hearing loss. This is a discriminatory practice. Under the Americans With Disabilities Act, as applied by the U.S. Dept. of Justice, otherwise qualified applicants for local and state police offer jobs have the right to an individual assessment including taking hearing tests with hearing aids. Second, Mr. Goldstein seems to be unaware that the State of New York has issued written policy requiring such an individual assessment, which the NYPD willingly ignores. (“Medical and Physical Fitness Standards and Procedures for Police Officer Candidates.” http://www.criminaljustice.state.ny.us/ops/docs/ .) This legal standard should apply equally to veteran officers such as Mr. Carione and Mr. Phillips.

David Gayle, Silver Spring, MD

Mr. Gayle is a retired attorney and serves a volunteer, part-time counsel to the Hearing Loss Association of America.

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.

HLAA stood by Carione, 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 planned 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.

LH: THE DRA PR SHOWS UP  TWICE BELOW

See HLAA’s amicus brief.

See the DRA Press release.

See the DRA Press release.

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