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A FedEx Corp. unit will pay $3.3 million to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in which it was accused of discriminating against deaf and hard-of-hearing package handlers.
EEOC said in its statement Monday that Coraopolis, Pennsylvania-based FedEx Ground Package System Inc. also denied deaf and hard-of-hearing handlers reasonable accommodations.
The EEOC said the two-year consent decree settling the suit identifies 229 individuals who may receive payment as part of the settlement.
The agency said it had conducted a nationwide systemic investigation after numerous deaf and hard-of-hearing package handlers filed discrimination charges under the Americans with Disabilities Act with EEOC offices throughout the country.
The settlement requires FedEx Ground to provide deaf and hard-of-hearing package handlers with access to live and video remote American Sign Language interpreting, captioned videos and scanning equipment with nonaudible cues, such as vibration, according to the statement.
Under terms of the decree, FedEx will also take steps to protect the package handler’s safety, including ensuring that all forklifts and similar motorized equipment have visual warning lights. It will also provide personal notification devices to alert deaf package handlers of an emergency, according to the statement.
Thomas D. Rethage, a senior trial attorney in the EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office, who was the co-lead EEOC attorney on the case, said in a statement, “The consent decree promotes effective and consistent accommodations for deaf and hard-of-hearing package handlers, including for safety, equipment and communication of job-related information.”
The company said in a statement, “FedEx Ground remains committed to the fair and equal treatment of all team members, including our deaf and hard-of-hearing employees, for whom we strive to provide every opportunity for success.
“FedEx Ground has been repeatedly recognized in the community for building a culture of inclusion that includes accommodating individuals with disabilities, and we will continue to provide these opportunities during these extraordinary times and beyond.
“We are pleased to put this litigation behind us as we continue to provide essential services to our customers and communities.”
In April, a federal appeals court said it was asking New York’s highest state court to consider whether an insurer must defend a psychotherapy center in a case in which a deaf woman said the center allegedly refused to schedule an appointment for her 7-year-old son because of her disability.
Louisiana lawmakers on Friday introduced three bills that would amend workers compensation code, providing a swath of guidelines for return-to-work rehabilitation services, cash benefits for firefighters who suffer hearing loss, and regulations for medical payments for injured workers.