UPS to Pay $2 Million to Settle Nationwide ADA Discrimination Lawsuit

Author: Robert S. Teachout, XpertHR Legal Editor

August 17, 2017

United Parcel Service (UPS) has agreed to pay $2 million to resolve a nationwide disability discrimination lawsuit filed in 2009 by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The suit alleged that the shipping company's inflexible leave policies resulted in the job loss of disabled employees who needed reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Under the ADA, additional leave may be a reasonable accommodation if it allows an employee to be able to return to and perform the essential functions of his or her job. The EEOC has long held that inflexible leave policies, under which an employee is automatically terminated after a specified amount of absences, violate the ADA because they do not provide for engaging an employee in the legally required interactive process for reasonable accommodation requests. In this case, UPS automatically fired disabled employees after they had been on leave for 12 months.

"Having a multiple-month leave policy alone does not guarantee compliance with the ADA," EEOC's Chicago District director Julianne Bowman said. "Such a policy must also include the flexibility to work with employees with disabilities who may simply require a reasonable accommodation to return to work."

In addition to paying $2 million in monetary relief to nearly 90 current and former employees, UPS has agreed to update its reasonable accommodation policy and improve its implementation, and conduct training for the company's disability accommodation administrators. The company also will provide periodic reports to the EEOC for three years on the status of every accommodation request to ensure its procedures are working effectively.