UPS Will Pay $95K For Turning Deaf Ear to Reasonable Accommodation Request

A United Parcel Service (UPS) unit will pay $95,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), according to an EEOC press release issued on December 14, 2011. The EEOC charged that UPS Supply Chain Solutions (UPS SCS) unlawfully denied a reasonable accommodation to a deaf employee.

Mauricio Centeno worked a California UPS SCS facility as a junior clerk in the accounting department from 2001 to 2009, according to the suit. Deaf since birth, Centeno’s primary language is American Sign Language (ASL), and he struggles to understand written English. While UPS SCS supervisors were aware of Centeno’s impairment, they continuously denied his repeated requests for a sign language interpreter for training, departmental staff meetings and other work-related sessions. Supervisors instead required that Centeno attend the meetings and counseled him about his performance without such an interpreter, with the company sometimes providing written notes and summaries that the EEOC says “did not adequately accommodate him due to his lack of proficiency in written English.”

When it comes to disability discrimination at work, an employer must always consider whether or not a reasonable accommodation can be made for an employee with a disability. In order for a judge or jury to find that that an employee was the victim of employment discrimination at work because of their disability, the employee’s specific request has to satisfy the definition of being reasonable. In Centeno’s case, the repeated requests for a translator over a number of years translated to UPS SCS violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Have you ever asked an employer for a reasonable accommodation to be made for you at your job? What was your experience like?

Law Offices of Kesluk, Silverstein & Jacob – Los Angeles employment attorneys