Verizon Tried to Undo Hiring, Blind Man Says

     MARTINEZ, Calif. (CN) – Verizon hired an experienced web analyst in California but quickly fired the man once it realized he is blind, he claims in court.
     Nicaise Dogbo filed the Aug. 25 complaint in Contra Costa County Superior Court. The case is the Top Download today for Courthouse News.
     Though he is “totally blind,” Dogbo says he earned a degree in electrical engineering and has more than 15 years of experience with top companies working on web-accessibility issues.
     The professional-staffing agency Randstand Technologies advertised the opening at Verizon for which Dogbo applied in December 2014, the complaint states.
     Dogbo says he applied with the understanding from Randstand that the six-month contract position, at a $62.50 hourly rate, could be converted to regular employment.
     After a telephone interview with Verizon, Dogbo says he took an accessibility sample test designed to evaluate his accessibility knowledge and testing processes.
     When Dogbo went through his performance on the test with Verizon on the phone, the interviewer allegedly asked whether Dogbo had used a screen reader to visually assess the test page.
     Dogbo claims that the question was geared at determining whether he had a visual disability, and that he decided not to disclose his disability at that time so that it would not factor into Verizon’s hiring decision.
     Several weeks later, Verizon called Dogbo and offered him at the job. Dogbo says the company cited a budgeting error, however, and offered him a $55 hourly rate.
     With Randstand offering to tack on another $3 an hour and lobby on his behalf for the $62.50 rate within six months, Dogbo took the job.
     Dogbo notes that, on his first day at the office, Feb. 9, Verizon had him sit at a cubicle from 9:45 a.m. to 4 p.m. without any instructions.
     An hour after the company told him to go home, his recruiter called to say not to return to work until they could sort out a “miscommunication” over the work order, according to the complaint.
     Dogbo says he was told a week later to enter a retroactive timesheet because his work order had been completed.
     He then waited for Verizon to assign a date for him to return to work. Verizon “abruptly terminated” Dogbo on March 10, according to the complaint, claiming that he was unable to fulfill the requirements of his position because of his blindness.
     Dogbo seeks punitive damages for wrongful termination, disability discrimination, failure to accommodate and retaliation.
     He is represented by Joseph Lepera, whose office is in San Francisco.
     Neither side could be reached for comment at press time on Thursday.

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