Deaf UPS Clerk Gets New Shot with ADA Suit

August 30, 2010 ( – A federal appellate court has ruled that a deaf UPS clerk should be able to press forward with his lawsuit alleging the shipper illegally refused to provide a sign language interpreter for him at company meetings.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decided that a lower court judge was wrong to throw out the suit in 2008 at the request of UPS and sent the case back for further proceedings.

In making the move, the appellate panel held that Mauricio Centeno should be given the chance to prove that UPS violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by only providing Centeno with after-the-fact written summaries of many meetings and only supplying the requested interpreter for other UPS sessions.

“Evidence in the record suggests that in determining whether to provide an (sign language) interpreter for weekly meetings, UPS did not consider the nature of the information being communicated in a particular meeting or the length of the meeting, but instead relied on relatively arbitrary considerations,” the 9th Circuit panel wrote. “In summary, an employer has discretion to choose among effective modifications, and need not provide the employee with the accommodation he or she requests or prefers, but an employer cannot satisfy its obligations under the ADA by providing an ineffective modification.”

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed the suit on behalf of Centeno, a junior clerk in the accounts payable division of the UPS facility in California, who has been deaf since birth.

The 9th Circuit opinion is at