Release Date: 
Monday, March 13, 2017
Chris Danielsen
Director of Public Relations
National Federation of the Blind
(410) 659-9314, extension 2330
(410) 262-1281 (Cell)

National Federation of the Blind Supports Blind Healthcare Worker's Discrimination Claim

Blind Man Unable to Perform his Job Due to Inaccessible Software

Boston (March 13, 2017): With the assistance of the National Federation of the Blind, the nation's leading advocate for the civil rights of blind people, Manuel G. Morse has brought suit in Suffolk County Superior Court (Docket No. 1784CV00773) against his employer, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Inc. (BWH); its corporate parent, Partners Healthcare Systems, Inc.; and Epic Systems Corporation, a maker of software used at BWH and throughout the healthcare industry. Mr. Morse's lawsuit alleges that he is unable to do his job as a hospital dispatcher because Epic's software is not compatible with the text-to-speech screen reading technology that he uses on his workplace computer, and that his employer and Epic are aware of the problem but have refused to take all appropriate steps to remedy it. Mr. Morse has been on indefinite paid leave since May of 2015 because of this issue. His lawsuit alleges violations of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 151B, § 4, and the Massachusetts Equal Rights Act (MERA).

Mark A. Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: "While improvements to workplace technology can benefit all workers, including the blind, if they are properly designed and implemented, inaccessible technology can and does threaten the ability of blind people to obtain and maintain employment. The problem is universal but is particularly vexing in the healthcare sector, where one of the defendants in this lawsuit is a leading provider of software being used in healthcare facilities. The National Federation of the Blind is willing to work with any technology vendor or employer who wishes to ensure that its technology can be used by everyone. At the same time, we cannot and will not tolerate unnecessarily sidelining a skilled healthcare worker who is unable to do his job because of a problem he did not create and was completely avoidable. We will fight for Mr. Morse and for other blind people who find themselves in this untenable situation."

Mr. Morse said: "Until May 27, 2015, I was a loyal, dependable, and productive employee of Brigham and Women's Hospital who loved my job. I felt that I was helping the hospital staff and patients and contributing to society at large. Now I sit at home and wonder if I will be able to work again. I am being compensated, but money is not the issue. I feel abandoned by my employer and as if I have no purpose or value. Since my own efforts to persuade my employers and Epic to act have failed, I must rely on the laws and courts of Massachusetts to help me get back to work."

Mr. Morse is represented, with the support of the National Federation of the Blind, by Christine M. Netski of the Boston firm Sugarman, Rogers, Barshak & Cohen, P.C., and by Daniel F. Goldstein, Joseph B. Espo, and Albert Elia of the Baltimore firm Brown, Goldstein & Levy LLP.