Court: UPS policy unfair to drivers who are injured or disabled

Updated Aug 11, 2018

A federal court has concluded UPS Ground Freight’s union contract discriminates by paying less to employees temporarily unable to drive because of medical conditions than those with licenses revoked or suspended for non-medical reasons.

The Kansas district court ruled policy contained in the Georgia-based parcel delivery company’s collective bargaining agreement with the Teamsters, violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. On July 27, Chief Judge Julie Robinson issued a permanent injunction against UPS Freight discriminating on the basis of disability. She also permanently enjoined the union and company from negotiating and ratifying contracts that discriminate because of disability.

UPS Freight did not immediately response to a request for comment.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued last year to obtain relief for Thomas Diebold, a service center driver from 2006 to 2015. After a minor stroke, Diebold sought a non-driving position, as permitted by company policy.

The judge stated that reassigned drivers receive 100 percent of the rate of pay when their “CDLs are suspended or revoked for non-medical reasons, including convictions for driving while intoxicated,” However, their rate of pay drops to 90 percent if transferred because they became “unable to drive due to medical disqualifications, including drivers who are individuals with disabilities within the meaning of the ADA.”

Robinson described the company’s collective bargaining agreement as “plain and unambiguous” despite UPS Freight’s defense that the EEOC relied “upon a selective and erroneous interpretation” of its language. That contract, ratified in January 2014, expired July 31.

Nearly a year ago, parent company United Parcel Service paid $2 million to about 90 current and former employees to settle with an EEOC lawsuit alleging ADA violations. The agency said the company didn’t provide reasonable accommodation to employees with disabilities that would enable them to do their job. It also automatically fired disabled employees after 12 months of leave, without engaging in the interactive process required by law.

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UPS agreed to implement changes, including updating its reasonable accommodation policy and conduct training for those handling the company’s disability accommodation process.