National Federation of the Blind Assists Federal Employee Experiencing Discrimination
Washington, D.C. (March 27, 2013): With the assistance of the National Federation of the Blind, Michael Leiterman, an attorney with the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection division (CBP), has filed a lawsuit alleging unlawful discrimination against him and other blind employees in violation of federal anti-discrimination laws that require the federal government to provide equal opportunity to people with disabilities. Mr. Leiterman is blind and uses screen-access software, which converts what is on a computer screen into synthesized speech, to access the computer information required to perform his job. The basis of his discrimination claim is that CBP has continued to procure and deploy inaccessible software and technology, adversely affecting Mr. Leiterman’s ability to perform his job severely enough to result in the denial of a routine promotion. Among the problems Mr. Leiterman has experienced are inability to access Web pages and documents on the Intranet used by CBP, inability to access his office e-mail and the CBP computer network when telecommuting, inability to complete training required by CBP and more.
Dr. Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “If blind people are to succeed in the modern workplace, and therefore make meaningful contributions to society, then we must have equal access to workplace technology, and employers are required by law to provide that access or make appropriate accommodations. The National Federation of the Blind will continue to fight for the rights of Mr. Leiterman and other blind federal employees to fully participate in their workplaces and in society.”
Mr. Leiterman said: “I have spent entirely too much time over the past six years trying to solve problems created by my employer’s unlawful use of inaccessible technology rather than performing the legal work for which I am qualified by my advanced law degree and which I was hired to do. Despite the fact that my work has been satisfactory, I was denied a routine promotion because I could not do my job effectively due to inaccessible technology. I hope that this litigation results in my agency complying with its legal obligations and allowing me and other federal employees who are blind to serve the American people.”
Mr. Leiterman is represented in this matter by Joseph B. Espo of the Baltimore firm, Brown, Goldstein & Levy LLP.