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UPS Settles Discrimination Suit With Deaf Employees
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
July 22, 2003

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA--Deaf employees at United Parcel Service -- the nation's fourth largest employer -- have agreed to accept the settlement of a class-action lawsuit that claimed the company discriminated against them and jeopardized their health and safety.

Lawyers representing the more than 1,000 former and current deaf UPS employees announced the settlement Monday. The settlement is not finalized until feedback is sought from around the country and it is approved by the court.

Under the settlement, UPS will pay $5.8 million to the plaintiffs in the case, with the amount for each ranging between $5,000 and $60,000. Another $4.1 million will go to cover attorneys' fees.

The company will take steps to accommodate its deaf workers, including providing interpreters during interviews, orientations, training, safety meetings and disciplinary actions. The company will give text telephones and vibrating pagers to deaf workers to help with emergency evacuation procedures.

UPS also agreed that company officials would meet at least three times a year with each deaf employee to address work concerns.

"This settlement is precedent-setting," said Caroline Jacobs, a lawyer with Disability Rights Advocates. "It sends a message to employers throughout the country that disabled employees deserve the same opportunities in the workplace as any other employee, and the nation's fourth largest employer can't treat its deaf employees as second-class citizens."

At the trial, which began in April, one deaf employee testified that the company refused to provide him with an interpreter during a safety training session about watching for packages that might carry anthrax.

Related article:
"Deaf UPS workers settle case for $10 million, deal outlines new access, safety measures" (Associated Press via San Francisco Chronicle)


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