Employment discrimination in the workforce is nothing new, but it is for a certain tracking and shipping service company.
FedEx Ground Package System Inc. recently came under fire for allegedly violating the Americans with Disabilities Act and Title I of the Civil Rights Act.
FedEx Ground is a subsidiary company of FedEx Corporation, an American global courier that delivers by air travel. FedEx Ground, however, only delivers by land within the United States and Canada.
As of 2010, the company has employed more than 65,000 fulltime workers and independent contractors, including those with disabilities.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a lawsuit earlier this month stating that the packaging and mailing company discriminates against deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
The lawsuit claims that FedEx failed to provide its disabled workers with necessary American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation equipment for a number of years.
Nineteen plaintiffs—most of which applied as an entry-level package handler—have come forth with accusations that the Pittsburgh, Pa. company was negligent and inconsiderate during the interview process.
The package handler job consists of challenging duties that require appropriate training and preparation. It can also be quite dangerous without the proper knowledge. The package handler job includes loading and unloading parcel from FedEx delivery trucks, scanning and sorting, and placing packages on a conveyor belt.
According to the lawsuit, FedEx did not provide closed-captioning videos during first-time orientations, important safety meetings, and training sessions. Instead, employers resorted to writing or hand signals as a way of communicating with the workers.
Furthermore, workforce personnel are offended that they were left to work with beeping scanners instead of easy-to-detect vibrating pagers.
Hearing-impaired workers are disappointed that FedEX has ignored numerous accommodation requests.
On behalf of FedEx Ground, Communication Director Perry Colosimo denied the allegations in a statement:
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.
Colosimo later responded with a list of examples of how FedEx ensures that all of its workers are comfortable in the workplace:
Contrary to the allegations in the [complaint], FedEx Ground does provide reasonable accommodations to deaf and hard of hearing employees, including: providing American-Sign Language interpreters during the hiring process and at other meetings; making available a wearable vibrating accessory at each of FedEx Ground’s stations for package handlers who have difficulty hearing a scanner’s audible beeps; and providing communications and training materials in writing, as well as adding closed captioning to relevant company video.
The company has reportedly been very cooperative throughout the duration of the investigation.
FedEx stands behind the notion that they are not at fault and “intend to vigorously contest the EEOC’s unfounded allegations.”
The lawsuit has been filed with the U.S. District Court in Maryland.
The EEOC plans to seek back pay for any lost benefits and compensation for any mental or emotional pain and suffering.