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The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday granted United Parcel Service Inc. a summary judgment in a case stemming from the accusation that the delivery company failed to accommodate a worker following injury, thus violating the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.
Melissa Brumley injured her back while unloading heavy packages from a UPS truck in December 2015, and after receiving workers compensation and taking a leave of absence, she returned to work in July 2016 with some restrictions: that she could not lift more than 30 pounds and that she could not drive. Her supervisor, in turn, would not allow her to return to her post as package sorter, as the job often calls for heavy lifting, according to the ruling filed in Cincinnati.
In October 2016, she met with a doctor to have the restrictions removed and subsequently returned to work. Several months later, she sued UPS for failure to accommodate, alleging a violation of the ADA stemming from her first return-to-work date when she claimed a supervisor did not allow her to work, according to records.
A federal district court granted UPS's motion for summary judgment, asserting that the company complied with the requirements set forth in ADA. Friday’s ruling affirmed that position that UPS was not in violation.
“UPS had no legal obligation to place Brumley in local sort on the very day she returned to work. UPS had discretion to provide a reasonable accommodation as identified through the (ADA) interactive process. For this reason, if Brumley voluntarily abandoned the process, UPS is not liable for failing to provide a reasonable accommodation,” the ruling states.
“However, Brumley argues that she did not voluntarily abandon the (ADA) interactive process — rather, she was coerced into doing so by hub manager… Nevertheless, we hold that the evidence Brumley cites is insufficient to create a genuine issue of material fact as to her voluntariness.”
A federal appeals court has overturned a lower court and reinstated an Americans with Disabilities Act lawsuit filed by a dialysis technical specialist, stating there is dispute over his former employer’s assertion that lifting 75 to 100 pounds is an essential job function.