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October 25, 2004

Judge Says UPS Policy Violates Disabilities Law

From: - USA - Oct 25, 2004

A federal judge has ruled that UPS violated federal and California law by excluding applicants for positions operating delivery trucks weighing 10,000 pounds or less because the applicants were deaf , the Associated Press reports.

U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson said UPS improperly applied a Department of Transportation hearing standard that covers operators of trucks weighing more than 10,000 pounds to drivers of trucks weighing 10,000 pounds or less.

Henderson ruled that "deaf individuals who meet UPS's threshold requirements cannot be categorically excluded and must instead be permitted to proceed through the company's regular processes for becoming a driver, with reasonable accommodations provided to them as needed. UPS relies on these processes to screen out unsafe hearing, and the court no requires that deaf drivers be treated no differently."

UPS argued that its policy reflected driver safety concerns, but Henderson said the company never investigated what level of hearing is necessary to communicate effectively and never analyzed whether or to what extent hearing is necessary to be a good driver.

The company tells the news service that it is considering an appeal of the ruling. "For us, the bottom line: It's a public safety issue," says UPS spokesperson Peggy Gardner. "It's not a discrimination issue. I can't emphasize that enough."

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