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UPS No Longer Able to Automatically Pay Disabled Workers Less

UPS Freight had a written policy, enumerated in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (“CBA”), that allowed it to pay its disabled drivers 10 percent less than it paid non-disabled workers. This reduced payment was made while the drivers were temporarily performing non-driving jobs.
Under the policy, drivers who were unable to drive for non-medical reasons received 100% of their pay. Only those drivers with medical issues, including ADA protected issues, had their pay reduced. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) sued on behalf of a driver who had suffered a stroke and was temporarily unable to get his Department of Transportation medical examiner’s certificate renewed. The agency argued that UPS Freight discriminated against the driver based on his disability and the explicit policy reflected a case of discrimination on its face. UPS Freight argued that this non-driving option was providing injured drivers the opportunity to continue working within the company, even though they could not perform their position.
The district court judge agreed with the EEOC, finding that the express provisions of the CBA were “plain and unambiguous” in their discrimination. “[P]aying employees less because of their disability is discriminatory under any circumstance,” according to the court. Because the policy was facially discriminatory, the court determined that it did not need to analyze whether the CBA worked in favor of the driver in this particular case. With regard to UPS’s argument that it was offering additional work, the court stated that any benefit that is part of the employment relationship must not be meted out in a non-discriminatory fashion. A permanent injunction against the policy was issued by the court.