United Parcel Service
lost another disability-bias ruling last week when a California federal appeals
court ruled the shipper cannot bar the deaf from driving its smaller trucks
unless the company can show they are less safe than other drivers.
U.S. Department of Transportation
regulations require drivers of commercial vehicles above 10,000 pounds to
pass a hearing test. But the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled
UPS cannot use the regulations to ban all deaf drivers.
Judge Martha Berzon ruled
that an employer may not enforce government safety standards "beyond
their intended scope, to drivers and vehicles that [DOT] has expressly chosen
not to regulate." She said the company must instead show that substantially
all deaf drivers pose a heightened risk of accidents or that it would be too
difficult to distinguish the safe from the unsafe.
The court reinstated
a lawsuit by a UPS employee in Arizona who was prohibited from applying for
a driver's job because of a severe hearing impairment.
Another federal judge
in San Francisco ruled last December that UPS violated federal disability
law by refusing to consider drivers who are legally blind in one eye. The
company has appealed.