March 22, 2023
Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
Court Agrees with EEOC That UPS Failed to Accommodate and Terminated Employee with Diabetes, Violating Federal Law
A federal judge has ruled as a matter of law that United Parcel Service, Inc. violated federal law by failing to accommodate and then firing an employee because of his disability, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today.
According to the EEOC’s suit, an employee who [has] diabetes asked a UPS human resources supervisor at a Jacksonville [Florida] warehouse location for the accommodation of an occasional short break to check his blood sugar and eat or drink something if necessary. The human resources supervisor referred to the employee with a disability as a “liability,” claiming that he could not do his job because of his diabetes. After the employee’s second shift ended, the UPS human resources supervisor left the employee a voicemail message advising him it was his last day of work.
Failing to provide a reasonable accommodation to a disabled employee and terminating an employee because of his disability violate the Americans with Disability Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. United Parcel Service, Inc., Case No. 3:21-cv-00656-BJD-JRK) in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida after exhausting its conciliation efforts to reach a voluntary pre-litigation settlement.
The federal judge ruled in EEOC’s favor that UPS failed to accommodate the employee’s disability, noting that it was undisputed that the UPS human resources supervisor and the employee’s full-time supervisor viewed the employee’s request for accommodations as a problem. “Instead of working with [the employee] or trying to accommodate him, UPS classified him as a liability, berated him, and remarked that [the employee] placed himself and UPS’s equipment in danger,” the judge said.
In addition, the judge found that UPS terminated the employee in violation of the ADA, explaining that the UPS supervisor’s remarks about the employee’s disability constituted direct evidence of UPS’s intent to discriminate and “. . . the only reasonable conclusion a juror could reach is that [the UPS human resources supervisor’s] message notified [the employee] that he was fired from UPS.”
The amount of monetary damages owed to the employee by UPS will be determined in further proceedings.
“The court’s ruling made it clear that UPS’s attempts to circumvent the protections of the ADA will not be tolerated,” said EEOC trial attorney Carmen Manrara Cartaya. “The EEOC will continue to fight for disabled employees to ensure they get a fair opportunity to work and earn a living.”
Evangeline Hawthorne, the EEOC’s district director in Miami, added, “Congress passed the ADA to remove barriers that prevent individuals with disabilities from finding and keeping their jobs. This decision should serve as a reminder to employers of the importance of educating supervisors about the protections afforded by the ADA – and the readiness of the EEOC to enforce that law.”
Robert Weisberg, the EEOC’s regional attorney in Miami, said, “Over 34 million people in the United States have diabetes. Employers should take note that they are required to provide reasonable accommodations unless doing so would create an undue hardship.”
For more information on disability discrimination, please visit eeoc.gov/disability-discrimination.
The EEOC Miami District Office’s jurisdiction includes Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.