EEOC Gains Favorable Ruling in Bias Suit Against FedEx

March 6, 2006

A federal jury recently found in favor of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in its employment discrimination lawsuit against Federal Express Corporation (FedEx) for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).

EEOC had charged the Memphis, Tenn.-based global shipping giant with failing to provide a reasonable accommodation to Ronald Lockhart, a profoundly deaf employee who worked as a package handler at the company’s Baltimore Ramp.

The suit charged Federal Express with violating the ADA when it failed to provide reasonable accommodations to Lockhart in the form of American Sign Language interpreters, despite his repeated requests. The jury found FedEx liable for punitive damages in the amount of $100,000 for its knowing failure to accommodate Lockhart as well as compensatory damages of $8,000 for the loss of the accommodation itself.

The EEOC’s lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Maryland on Sept. 30, 2004 (Case No. 04 CV-3129) after the agency first attempted to reach a voluntary pre-litigation settlement.

“This verdict sends victims and their employers a big message,”said EEOC Regional Attorney Jacqueline McNair. “Employers must provide reasonable accommodations for qualified individuals with disabilities. It is the employer’s responsibility to demonstrate that it is committed to fully adhere to the requirements of the ADA on behalf of disabled employees, and that they are not to be treated like second-class citizens.”

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