EEOC Takes Legal Action Against UPS for Disability Discrimination

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In a significant legal development, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) recently filed a lawsuit against United Parcel Service (“UPS”) on allegations of disability discrimination. The lawsuit centers on UPS’s alleged refusal to hire individuals who are deaf or hearing-impaired as drivers, a move that has raised concerns about equal employment opportunities.

The EEOC’s legal action is grounded in the fact that the Department of Transportation (“DOT”) has already authorized the employment of deaf or hearing-impaired individuals to operate vehicles weighing over 10,000 pounds. This authorization comes through a specialized program that exempts these individuals from traditional hearing tests and instead relies on alternative criteria to ensure an equivalent level of driver safety.

UPS has responded to these allegations by announcing modifications to its driver training programs for those who are deaf or hard of hearing. These changes are set to take effect in January 2024, with UPS also confirming its intention to accept exemptions to the DOT commercial driver hearing standard for operators of its well-known brown delivery trucks.

UPS has justified the need for specialized training by pointing out that current regulations fail to account for best practices when it comes to driving larger commercial vehicles that frequently make stops in residential neighborhoods and other unique scenarios. The company’s goal is to enhance driver safety and protect the communities they serve.

The legal basis for this lawsuit lies in the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in various aspects of employment, including hiring practices. The EEOC took this step after failing to reach a pre-litigation settlement with UPS, signaling their commitment to ensuring that individuals with disabilities are afforded the same opportunities as everyone else.

Gregory Gochanour, the EEOC’s regional attorney in Chicago, emphasized the importance of not assuming that someone who is deaf cannot drive safely. This statement underscores the core principle of the ADA – that individuals with disabilities should be evaluated on their qualifications and abilities rather than preconceived notions.

The lawsuit, titled EEOC v. UPS and bearing the Civil Action No. 1:23-cv-14021, has been filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. It marks a significant legal challenge that could have far-reaching implications for disability rights and equal employment opportunities in the United States.

This case serves as a reminder of the ongoing efforts to ensure fairness and inclusivity in the workplace, and it highlights the critical role that organizations like the EEOC play in safeguarding the rights of individuals with disabilities. UPS’s commitment to enhancing training for drivers with hearing impairments demonstrates a positive step toward addressing these concerns and promoting a more inclusive workforce.

For more information and assistance to ensure your business is compliant with the ADA, please contact us at

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