EEOC Sues FedEx for Failing to Provide Reasonable Accommodations to Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workers and Job Applicants

On October 10, it was announced that the EEOC has filed a lawsuit charging that FedEx discriminated against deaf and partially deaf packed handlers and job applicants for years. Package handlers physically load and unload packages from delivery vehicles, place and reposition packages in FedEx Ground’s conveyor systems, and scan, sort and route packages.

The lawsuit arose as a result of 19 charges filed throughout the country citing discrimination against deaf and hard-of-hearing people by FedEx Ground. The agency consolidated these charges and conducted a nationwide systemic investigation of these violations. The EEOC filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.

The EEOC says that FedEx Ground failed to provide needed accommodations to the workers such as American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation and closed-captioned training videos during the mandatory initial tour of the facilities and new-hire orientation for deaf and hard-of-hearing applicants. The shipping company also failed to provide such accommodations during staff, performance, and safety meetings.

In addition to failing to provide communications-based accommodations for mandatory meetings, FedEx Ground refused to provide needed equipment substitutions and modifications for deaf and hard-of-hearing package handlers, such as providing scanners that vibrate instead of beep and installing flashing safety lights on moving equipment.

These widespread failures to provide reasonable accommodations occurred despite FedEx Ground having longstanding knowledge that it receives applications from, and has employed, a significant number of deaf and hard-of-hearing people in the package handler position throughout the country.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of disability. The ADA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for applicants and employees with a disability unless the employer can show that doing so would be an undue hardship.

See the full article at EEOC.

If you believe your rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act were violated by your employer, please contact The Harman Firm, LLP.