A federal judge in San Francisco on Monday put on hold a ruling that would force United Parcel Service Inc. to throw out a policy barring deaf people from driving some of its vehicles.
U.S. District Judge Thelton E. Henderson granted a request by UPS to delay his Oct. 21 ruling while the company appealed. Henderson had ruled that the company’s practice of excluding deaf drivers from operating trucks less than 10,000 pounds violated the federal Americans With Disabilities Act.
Atlanta-based UPS, the world’s largest package-delivery service, said changing its policies could endanger public safety.
Henderson said his ruling “raises serious questions” worthy of review by an appellate court.
The stay postpones a decision on whether United Parcel Service will have to pay damages to 1,000 drivers affected by Henderson’s ruling.
Last year United Parcel Service agreed to pay $10 million to settle accusations that it denied deaf workers promotions and interpreters. The settlement didn’t cover separate claims that a UPS requirement that all drivers pass U.S. hearing standards was discriminatory.
“While we don’t agree with the judge’s ruling, he’s clearly interested in getting it right,” said Todd Schneider, an attorney for deaf UPS employees seeking jobs as drivers. He said he expected that the appeals court would uphold Henderson’s ruling. A decision may take as long as two years.
“In terms of the safety standards that we apply, those will remain in effect while the appeal is underway,” said Peggy Gardner, a UPS spokeswoman.
The federal government requires drivers of trucks more than 10,000 pounds to pass certain hearing standards but doesn’t have the same requirement for drivers of smaller trucks. UPS requires drivers for all its delivery trucks, even those less than 10,000 pounds, to meet federal hearing requirements.
Shares of UPS fell 81 cents to $83.74 on the New York Stock Exchange.