:: Inside Bay Area – 11-judge appeals panel to rehear UPS case ::

11-judge appeals panel to rehear UPS case

UPS used a hearing test that excluded deaf people from driving trucks

Article Last Updated: 04/28/2007

A larger federal appeals court panel will rehear a Bay Area-based case in which global shipping giant UPS was permanently barred from using a hearing test that excluded deaf employees from all driving positions.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in October had upheld the ruling by Senior U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson of San Francisco.

But the court Tuesday ordered that the case be reheard by an 11-judge panel.

UPS had used a Department of Transportation hearing test intended for vehicles weighing more than 10,000 pounds.

Plaintiffs in this 1999 class-action lawsuit, represented by Berkeley-based Disability Rights Advocates, successfully argued at trial that UPS’s use of the test for vehicles weighing less than 10,000 pounds — such as brown package car vans — impermissibly screened out deaf applicants who had safe driving records, seniority at UPS and were otherwise eligible to drive.

The parties had settled other issues during the trial; UPS agreed to pay the plaintiffs

$5 million in damages.

Atlanta-based UPS had

$47.5 billion in revenue in 2006; has 7.9 million customers daily; and has 427,700 employees worldwide, 360,600 of whom are in the United States.

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