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FedEx vows fight over EEOC charges of bias against hearing-impaired workers


The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed a lawsuit against a unit of FedEx Corp., charging it with discriminating nationwide against a large class of deaf and hard-of-hearing package handlers and job applicants by failing to accommodate them.

A spokesman for the unit, Coraopolis, Pennsylvania-based FedEx Ground Package System Inc., denied the charges in a statement, and said they will be contested.

The EEOC said Friday that FedEx Ground violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to provide needed accommodations such as American Sign Language interpretation and closed-caption training videos during the mandatory tour of the facilities and new-hire orientation for deaf and hard-of-hearing applications, as well as during staff, performance, safety and mandatory meetings.

It charged that FedEx Ground failed to provide these accommodations although it has employed a significant number of deaf and hard-of-hearing people in package handler positions throughout the United States and receives applications from others.

The EEOC said the lawsuit arose as result of 19 charges filed throughout the country citing discrimination against deaf and hard-of-hearing people by FedEx Ground.

EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence said in a statement, “Common sense, let alone federal legal requirements, would dictate that FedEx Ground should have provided effective accommodations to enable people with hearing difficulties to obtain workplace information that is disseminated in meetings and in training sessions. EEOC contends that by failing to do so, FedEx Ground has marginalized disabled workers and hindered job performance. This is a ‘lose/lose scenario.’ ”

FedEx Ground said in a statement it is “committed to fair and equal treatment of all employees and believes the claims made by the EEOC are misleading and not founded in law. We value our deaf and hard of hearing employees, and we strive to give them, like all our employees, every opportunity to be successful — including working with them to provide individualized and reasonable accommodations.

“We have cooperated with the EEOC throughout their investigation and are disappointed that the EEOC was not willing to engage in legitimate, good-faith discussions to conciliate and resolve these allegations. We are confident that we have complied with the law and intend to vigorously contest the EEOC’s unfounded allegations.”

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