CBA was no excuse for UPS docking pay of drivers with disabilities, court says
- UPS Freight violated federal law with its policy of paying drivers with disabilities 90% of what it pays non-disabled drivers when they temporarily move to non-driving jobs for medical reasons, a federal district court has ruled (EEOC v. UPS Ground Freight, No. 2:17-cv-02453 (D. Kan., July 27, 2018)).
- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued on behalf of a driver who suffered a minor stroke and sought non-driving work. According to UPS policy and a collective bargaining agreement, drivers assigned to non-driving work for medical reasons were to receive 90% of their pay. Those reassigned for non-medical reasons, including convictions for driving while intoxicated, received 100%.
- The district court judge said the policy and union contract violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and issued a permanent injunction preventing the union and employer from adopting contracts that discriminate based on disability.
The judge said the company's practice violated the ADA because it limited, segregated or classified drivers because of disability, adversely affecting the opportunities or status of drivers with disabilities. It also used standards, criteria, or methods of administration that had the effect of discrimination on the basis of ability. "Paying employees less because of their disability is discriminatory under any circumstance," the court said.
In a statement announcing the order, a lawyer for EEOC said that UPS' argument that it was simply following the terms of its union contract was not a valid defense. According to law firm Arkady Itkin’s blog, this case is a "good example of how various policies and agreements cannot supersede the law."
Still, a Fair Labor Standards Act provision that, in limited circumstances, allows employers to pay workers with disabilities a subminimum wage remains on the books. Section 14(c) authorizes employers, after receiving a certificate from the U.S. Department of Labor pay workers who have disabilities less than the minimum wage.
- U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas EEOC v. UPS Ground Freight