Last summer, Nike began requiring its retail employees to wear masks to combat the spread of COVID-19. A few weeks later, Cali Bunn entered one of its San Diego-area stores to purchase some shoes. Ms. Bunn is deaf and, like other deaf and hearing-impaired customers, relies on her ability to read other’s lips to communicate.

Ms. Bunn sued Nike in federal court in California (Bunn v. Nike Inc.), alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and corresponding California public accommodation laws. Ms. Bunn argued the opaque masks worn by Nike employees caused communication difficulties because they “muffle sound and conceal the wearers’ mouths and facial expressions.”

Nike recently settled the lawsuit, agreeing to provide transparent masks as well as pens and paper to its retail employees so those employees can more easily communicate with deaf and hearing-impaired customers.

Photo of Tony Oncidi Tony Oncidi

Anthony J. Oncidi heads the Labor & Employment Law Group in the Los Angeles office.

Tony represents employers and management in all aspects of labor relations and employment law, including litigation and preventive counseling, wage and hour matters, including class actions, wrongful termination…

Anthony J. Oncidi heads the Labor & Employment Law Group in the Los Angeles office.

Tony represents employers and management in all aspects of labor relations and employment law, including litigation and preventive counseling, wage and hour matters, including class actions, wrongful termination, employee discipline, Title VII and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, executive employment contract disputes, sexual harassment training and investigations, workplace violence, drug testing and privacy issues, Sarbanes-Oxley claims and employee raiding and trade secret protection. A substantial portion of Tony’s practice involves the defense of employers in large class actions, employment discrimination, harassment and wrongful termination litigation in state and federal court as well as arbitration proceedings, including FINRA matters.

Dylan K. Tedford

Dylan Tedford is an associate in the Labor Department and a member of the Employment Litigation and Arbitration Group.