U.P.S. Settles Bias Lawsuit Brought by Deaf Workers

July 22, 2003
By STEVEN GREENHOUSE

Lawyers for more than 1,000 current and former deaf
employees at United Parcel Service yesterday announced the
settlement of a discrimination lawsuit in which the company
agreed to pay $10 million and to take steps to accommodate
deaf workers.

In the settlement in San Francisco, U.P.S. pledged to
provide deaf workers with effective communications,
including interpreters, for interviews, orientation,
training, safety meetings and disciplinary sessions.

The plaintiffs' lawyers predicted that the settlement would
encourage other companies to do more to accommodate deaf
employees. The settlement was announced in San Francisco,
after the lawsuit had been tried for six weeks in a federal
courtroom there.

"This settlement is precedent-setting," said Caroline
Jacobs, a lawyer with Disability Rights Advocates, a
nonprofit law group. "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."

U.P.S., a package delivery service, has 320,000 employees
in the United States.

At the trial, Babaranti Oloyede, a Bay area employee at
U.P.S., testified that the company refused to provide him
with an interpreter during a safety training session on
watching for packages that might carry anthrax. He said
that over 10 years the company never provided a qualified
interpreter for any other training.

Peggy Gardner, a U.P.S. spokeswoman, said, "The measures
called for in the settlement will make what we believe is
one of the best working environments even better."

In settling, she said, the company was not admitting to
having a discriminatory working environment. She said that
the settlement made sense for the company because the trial
was expected to last many more months.

U.P.S. agreed that company officials would meet at least
three times a year with each deaf employee to address work
concerns. To help with emergency evacuation procedures,
U.P.S. will provide each deaf worker with a vibrating
pager. The company will pay $4.1 million in lawyers' fees
and distribute $5.8 million to the plaintiffs, with the
amount ranging from $5,000 to $60,000.


http://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/22/national/22WORK.html?ex=1059892153&ei=1&en=dd47af7ebfd5182b