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Diabetic African-American Employee Advances Claims Against UPS

Henry Lucas was a loader for the United Parcel Service (UPS) at a distribution center in Ohio. At the time of his termination, he was the only black loader, a job that required him to put packages into the back of the delivery trucks pulled into the distribution center. Floor drains intended to collect oil and other vehicle fluids existed under each of the delivery cars. As the work was fast-paced, loaders were required to get permission before using the bathroom. It was common for male loaders to use the floor drains instead of the restroom. Lucas had been told to use the drain “like the other loaders” after he had told his supervisors that he would need to use the restroom frequently because of his diabetes.
One of the drivers complained that someone had been urinating out of the passenger door, leaving urine on the step and inside door seam. A surveillance camera showed Lucas on a car step; he admitted that he urinated there but asserted he had aimed outside the vehicle towards the drain. He was fired.
In the subsequent lawsuit against UPS, Lucas argued that the reason for his termination was a pretextual basis for disability discrimination because he never urinated inside the car and never left urine in a vehicle. Additionally, he claimed other employees had urinated inside their vehicles (into bottles and bags) but had never been terminated. The district court denied summary judgment to UPS on this issue because there were questions of fact as to the true basis for Lucas’ termination. With regard to his race discrimination claim, Lucas cited another loader who urinated on the floor and wall of a restroom but was not fired after it was discovered he had a medical condition. White male employees did admit to urinating in these places but the manager did not attempt to investigate them, the urine bottles in the cars, or investigate the other loader’s medical condition. There was no evidence that UPS had fired anyone else following prior complaints of smelling urine in the cars.