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July 23, 2003

UPS to Pay $5.8M to Deaf Workers

From: HRNext - Jul 23, 2003

United Parcel Service has agreed to pay $5.8 million to workers with hearing impairments, give access to certified interpreters, and provide text telephones and vibrating pagers to alert deaf employees of an emergency, the Associated Press reports.

The agreement ends a trial of a class-action lawsuit alleging the company violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by discriminating against over 900 current and former hearing-impaired employees.

Plaintiffs testified that the company didn't accommodate their disabilities during safety meetings, denied them promotions, and excluded them from workplace information, the news agency reports.

"I've been working there for 12 years now and for all those years UPS didn't provide interpreters, a telephone for emergency news, closed captioning, training videotapes or emergency signals like flashing lights," said Babaranti Oloyede through an interpretor. "We had many meetings, like a meeting about anthrax, and I didn't have an interpreter, so I didn't know what was going on."

The company denied the allegations of discrimination.

"UPS has long been a positive work environment for those with disabilities and we're proud of our record thus far," says Peggy Gardner, spokeswoman for the company. "We feel the measures called for in the settlement are only going to make a positive work environment even better."

Under the proposed settlement, the company will also track promotions.

The proposed settlement does not address the employees' challenge of UPS's policy that does not permit hearing-impaired workers to operate delivery trucks, the AP reports.

The AP notes that the hearing-impaired employees will continue to pursue that issue in court.

Associated Press article , via FindLaw

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