ADA: Sixth Circuit rules for deaf lifeguard

by Walter Olson on January 12, 2013

Yes, deaf lifeguard. The Sixth Circuit has ruled in favor of a would-be deaf lifeguard, saying not enough of an individualized inquiry was made into accommodating his possible placement in the life-saving position. Among the arguments the court found persuasive was that drowning persons typically do not call loudly for help, which of course leaves open the possibility that the calls for help might be coming from other persons. Some deaf persons have worked successfully as lifeguards, including Leroy Colombo, a championship swimmer who did rescues at Galveston, Tex. beaches. In the Sixth Circuit case, Oakland County, Mich., had cited safety concerns in not posting the applicant to a public wave pool. [Disability Law]

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Discrimination law roundup - Overlawyered
01.24.13 at 12:30 am


1 Peyote Short 01.12.13 at 9:30 pm

Yes, I was a little shocked when I read the headline. But considering the noise level and the screaming in a typical public pool, being deaf and vigilant may beat hearing and texting friends.

2 blhlls 01.13.13 at 12:56 pm

Interestingly, a responsible person within the Recreation Departmnt did an analysis that his disability could be accommodated, but this view was not accepted by those higher up. The Court seemed to have a problem with the County having a knowledgeable person conducting a individualized enquiry, only to have that enquiry disregarded by those who had not conducted such an enquiry (as opposed to having competing opinions based on equally detailed enquiries).

3 DEM 01.13.13 at 9:24 pm

Anyone want to guess the amount of a hypothetical plaintiffs’ verdict if a young boy drowns in a pool guarded by a deaf lifeguard, especially if there is any evidence at all of a cry for help?

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