Update on law suit


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Full Court to Reconsider UPS Lawsuit
Tuesday April 24, 10:47 pm ET
By Paul Elias, Associated Press Writer Full Appeals Court to Reconsider Lawsuit Over Deaf UPS Drivers

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- A federal appeals court agreed Tuesday to reconsider an earlier ruling that UPS Inc. discriminated against deaf employees by automatically barring them from driving parcel delivery trucks.
A 15-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will take up the case after a three-judge panel last year upheld a ruling that the Atlanta-based company's practices violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. The smaller panel said the company had no right to automatically disqualify deaf or hearing-impaired drivers.
On appeal, UPS maintained its hiring practice was a safety issue and that it was not discriminating. UPS wants to prohibit deaf employees from driving delivery trucks weighing less than 10,000 pounds.
Federal rules mandate that drivers of trucks exceeding 10,000 pounds be able to hear a whisper from 5 feet away. The government leaves it up to companies to decide who is qualified to operate lighter vehicles.
The U.S. Postal Service and FedEx Corp. allow some deaf drivers to operate delivery vehicles under 10,000 pounds.
In 2003, under a $10 million settlement, UPS agreed to track promotions and ensure that hearing-impaired employees and job applicants have access to certified interpreters. The company also agreed to provide text telephones and vibrating pagers to alert poor-hearing employees to emergency evacuations.
That settlement resolved all issues in the case except the truck driving dispute.
The case is Bates v. UPS Inc., 04-17295.