UPS Violates ADA with Policy Against Deaf Drivers

October 11, 2006 ( - The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court decision that United Parcel Service (UPS) violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by excluding deaf employees from positions as package car drivers.

In its opinion the appellate court said UPS failed to prove that all or substantially all deaf drivers present a greater safety risk than it assumes for other drivers. The court said the concept of risk is an individual, not an aggregate one.

The appellate panel also pointed out that the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) hearing standard that UPS used in qualifications for package car drivers does not apply to the vehicles in question.

The case involved a class of UPS employees that included at least two individuals who met all of UPS’ prerequisites for being promoted to package car driver except for the DOT hearing standard. UPS filed a motion to decertify the class since other class members failed to meet qualifications for the position other than the hearing standard. The district court denied that motion, and the appellate court confirmed.

The district court issued an injunction that included a requirement for UPS to perform an individualized assessment of the abilities of an employee who met all requirements for a package car driver position except for the DOT hearing standard. The appellate court affirmed the injunction.

The opinion in Bates v. UPS is here .