Disability Class Action Filed Against UPS, Inc.

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“Stop playing doctor!” That’s the message behind a nationwide class action lawsuit filed against United Parcel Service last Friday in a Pittsburgh federal court. The lawsuit charges UPS with violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the federal law that protects persons with disabilities from employment discrimination. UPS is alleged to have illegally terminated hundreds of employees because it disapproved of their prescription medications. If proven, the claims could expose UPS to tens of millions of dollars in damages.

“Stop playing doctor!” That’s the message behind a nationwide class-action lawsuit filed against United Parcel Service last Friday in a Pittsburgh federal court. The lawsuit charges UPS with systemic violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the federal law that protects persons with disabilities from employment discrimination. UPS is alleged to have illegally terminated hundreds of employees because it disapproved of their prescription medications. If proven, the claims could expose UPS to tens of millions of dollars in damages.

“Our first concern is that the company stop practicing medicine,” said Charles Lamberton, lead attorney for the plaintiffs. “These employees are using legal prescriptions under their doctors’ supervision. They still do their jobs perfectly well. UPS is telling them they either have to quit their medicine or be fired.”

According to court papers, UPS singles out employees with a history of addiction to alcohol or drugs, and forces them to disclose their prescriptions. The company then prohibits these employees from using any medications it believes are “inappropriate” for someone in recovery. UPS tests the employee’s urine to make sure she has stopped using her prescription. If the employee has not quit her medicine, she is fired. “It’s outrageous,” Lamberton said.

Andrew Imparato, President and CEO of the American Association of People with Disabilities, agrees. With more than 90,000 members, the Washington, DC based non-profit is the largest cross-disability organization in the United States. “When an employer interferes with an employee’s medical care, it crosses a line,” Imparato said. “Addiction is a disease. Many of these employees also suffer from psychological illnesses that are best treated with prescription medications. There’s just no legitimate reason for UPS to be second-guessing licensed physicians. That’s why we joined as a co-plaintiff.”

What about driver safety? “A red herring,” Lamberton said. “There’s no public safety issue here. We’re talking about the 260,000 office workers, package sorters and other employees whose jobs aren’t safety sensitive. Drivers and pilots are not part of the case.”

If the legal team Lamberton assembled reflects his determination to win, UPS has reason to be concerned. “Kent Spriggs of Tallahassee is probably the top employment class action lawyer in the United States. And Claudia Center of San Francisco is an expert’s expert on disability discrimination law. She’s argued ADA cases before the Supreme Court and knows all the nuances. It’s a highly qualified team and we have a great chemistry.”    

Asked what lies ahead, Lamberton replied, “We’re going to trial and we’re going to win.” The lawsuit is Darlene E. Veltri and the American Association of People with Disabilities vs. United Parcel Service, Inc., Civil Action No. 04-1177 (W.D. Pa.).

Contact Information:

Charles Lamberton

412-258-2250

[email protected]

LAMBERTON LAW FIRM, LLC

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Charles Lamberton
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