It may seem astonishing that an employer would treat an employee who had a minor stroke less favorably than an employee convicted of drunk driving, but that is precisely what the EEOC has alleged. According to the lawsuit filed against UPS, the company’s collective bargaining agreement allows for lower wages for drivers who have been disqualified from driving for medical reasons. This policy was held to be discriminatory under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
EEOC v. UPS Ground Freight, Inc.,
UPS had a collective bargaining agreement with the union which includes provisions for reassigning drivers who become disqualified and lose their commercial drivers’ licenses. According to the agreement, an employee whose CDL is suspended or revoked for non-medical reasons can be reassigned to a non-driving position but retain their full pay. This includes employees who lose their licenses due to DUI convictions. However, employees who are unable to continue driving because of a medical condition are reassigned to positions at only 90% of their current rate of pay. This includes individuals who are protected under the ADA from discrimination based on a qualified disability.
EEOC Files Motion to Establish Liability
The EEOC filed a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, basically arguing that there are no material issues of fact to be resolved and the EEOC is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, without the need for a trial. The EEOC argued that the plain language of the CBA established all the elements of a discrimination case. UPS responded that the court was required to make a case-by-case determination to see whether certain employees were actually being discriminated against.
The Court Agreed with the EEOC
The Court agreed with the EEOC and granted its motion for judgment on the pleadings. The Court determined that the language of the collective bargaining agreement was plain and unambiguous and a policy to pay employees less because of their disability “is discriminatory under any circumstance.” In other words, paying employees less because of their disability is discrimination.
The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits employers from discriminating against “qualified” individuals with disabilities with regard to employment decisions. The prohibition extends to job application procedures, hiring and firing practices and policies, promotions, discipline, compensation, job training and many other terms, conditions and privileges of employment.
The Court also rejected the argument by UPS that the agreement did not limit other job opportunities available to employees with disabilities. The Court pointed out that, regardless of that fact, UPS could not provide a legitimate reason for paying medically disqualified drivers less than those disqualified for non-medical reasons.
If you feel you have been the victim of discrimination or retaliation in the workplace, or if you have any other questions regarding your employment rights, please contact the experienced Birmingham employment law attorneys at Michel | King . You can contact us either online or by calling us at (205) 2651880. We are here to serve you!