Shipping Giant’s Rigid Leave Policies Forced Out Employees Who Needed Accommodations, Federal Agency Charged
CHICAGO – International shipping giant United Parcel Service, Inc. (UPS) has agreed to pay $2 million to nearly 90 current and former UPS employees to resolve a nationwide disability discrimination lawsuit filed in 2009 by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) as well as to conciliate related administrative charges, the agency announced today.
The EEOC charged that UPS violated federal law failing to provide UPS employees with disabilities reasonable accommodations that would enable them to perform their job duties. The EEOC further alleged that UPS maintained an inflexible leave policy, whereby the company fired disabled employees automatically when they reached 12 months of leave, without engaging in the interactive process required by law.
Such alleged conduct violates Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (Case No. 09-cv-5291) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
In addition to providing $2 million in monetary relief, UPS has also agreed to update its policies on reasonable accommodation, improve its implementation of those policies, and conduct training for those who administer the company’s disability accommodation processes. Furthermore, the company has agreed to provide the EEOC periodic reports on the status of every accommodation request for the next three years to ensure the efficacy of its procedures.
“The ADA requires companies to make a real effort to work individually with their employees with disabilities to provide them with the necessary and reasonable accommodations that will allow them to do their jobs,” said Greg Gochanour, regional attorney of the EEOC’s Chicago District Office. “As a result of this lawsuit, UPS now has practices in place to better ensure that this happens.”
Julianne Bowman, the EEOC’s Chicago District director, added, “Having a multiple-month leave policy alone does not guarantee compliance with the ADA. 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. UPS has now made changes which will allow more people to keep their jobs.”
According to company information, Atlanta-based UPS has over 434,000 employees and had revenues of $61 billion in 2016.
The EEOC’s Chicago District Office is responsible for processing charges of employment discrimination, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.