UPS Fired Jacksonville Employee Because of His Diabetes, Saying he Was a “Liability,” Federal Agency Charges
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – United Parcel Service, Inc. violated federal law by firing an employee because of his disability, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.
According to the EEOC’s suit, a UPS human resources supervisor at a Jacksonville ware-house location referred to an employee with a disability as a “liability,” claiming that he could not do his job because of his diabetes. The employee requested the accommodation of an occasional short break of less than five minutes in between unloading trailers to check his blood sugar and eat or drink something if necessary.
The employee suffers from erratic or brittle diabetes and wears an insulin pump with a continuous glucose monitor. The employee was able to perform the essential functions of the job as pre-loader and indeed performed the job at UPS without issue for two days before his termination. After the employee’s second shift ended, the UPS Human Resources Supervisor then left the employee a voicemail message advising him it was his last day of work.
Terminating an employee because of his disability violates the Americans with Disability Act. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. United Parcel Service, Inc., Case No. 3:21-cv-00656-BJD-JRK) in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida only after exhausting its conciliation efforts to reach a voluntary pre-litigation settlement. The agency is seeking back pay and compensatory and punitive damages for the employee, as well as appropriate injunctive relief to prevent any further discriminatory practices.
“Over 34 million people have diabetes in the United States,” said Robert E. Weisberg, regional attorney for the EEOC's Miami District Office. “It is imperative that employers provide reasonable accommodations, especially where the accommodation would pose no expense and little, if any, disruption to the workplace.”
Paul Valenti, director of the EEOC’s Miami’s District Office, emphasized that “the EEOC will continue to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities to work — free of discrimination and fear of losing their job. Employers must engage in the interactive process and provide reason-able accommodations for workers with disabilities — these people deserve the right to work with dignity.”
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.