Who is Kaylah Vogt? Deaf woman awarded $180K in lawsuit against Minnesota Hospital for denying her a job

Who is Kaylah Vogt? Deaf woman awarded $180K in lawsuit against Minnesota Hospital for denying her a job
Kaylah Vogt, 26, settled a federal lawsuit against North Memorial Health Hospital (DeafNation World Expo; Google Maps)

ROBBINSDALE, MINNESOTA: A deaf woman, who sued the North Memorial Health for denying her a job due to her disability, has been awarded $180,000 as payout in the federal lawsuit. Kaylah Vogt settled the lawsuit under a consent decree which means the hospital made no admission of wrongdoing and agreed to make the payout and other actions addressed in the lawsuit under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).


Vogt reportedly said that applied to be a greeter at the health care facility in Robbinsdale but despite being qualified she was instantly denied the job as due to the Covid-19 masking rules. she would struggle to lip-read while working. "Unfortunately, some employers continue to discriminate against deaf applicants based on myths, fears, and stereotypes about their ability to do the job because of their disability," Vogt's attorney Gregory Gochanour said.


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Who is Kaylah Vogt?

Vogt is a 26-year-old student at the University of Minnesota's College of Continuing and Professional Studies. She recalled the traumatic experience in her college article in August 2021 of applying for a job at North Memorial Health and her belief that she had been hired for the position in July 2020. "After I self-identified as an individual with deafness and requested a reasonable accommodation, I was fired instantly without their further attempt to work with me. Ultimately, it affected my career choices and how I navigate the world," she said, according to the Daily Mail.

District director for the EEOC in Chicago, Julianne Bowman, said that the consent decree would hopefully prove to be the first step toward change against disabled people. "The consent decree's requirement of training for managers and supervisors involved in hiring decisions on the provisions against discrimination is critical to eliminating discrimination against disabled applicants," she said. The greeter's position criteria consisted of "Greeting visitors, applying Covid-19 masking standards and policies, giving directions and keeping the area tidy and welcoming." Vogt wears hearing aids which allowed her to "hear people speaking without any difficulty." "Vogt can communicate verbally [and] can also communicate with American Sign Language," the lawsuit stated. 


However, North Memorial denied the allegations and stated the challenges greeters were facing at the time because of the pandemic required "strong listening and verbal communication skills interacting with individuals experience stress/grief," reported the outlet. The filing stated that greeters "needed to communicate quickly and succinctly with visitors regarding visitor policy, assess visitors' understanding and compliance, and troubleshoot [while] communication was significantly hindered by COVID-necessitated face masks." The $180,000 payment covers $75,000 in compensatory damages, around $44,000 in back pay, and roughly $61,000 to cover Vogt's legal expenses incurred.

Following the incident, North Memorial said in a statement, "We recognize that our [hiring] processes in place for temporary roles may have been compromised during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, and we understand Ms Vogt's disappointment in the decisions that were made at that time. We have reviewed specific practices following this case and will continue to strive to ensure our customers, our current, past and future team members, and our providers feel valued and respected." Since then, Vogt has founded Healing Signs, a nonprofit whose organization to provide mental health services for the deaf and hard of hearing after facing multiple experiences of being rejected due to her disability while looking for jobs.  

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