(PRWEB) August 13, 2004
ÂStop playing doctor!Â ThatÂs 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.
ÂOur first concern is that the company stop practicing medicine,Â said Charles Lamberton, lead attorney for the plaintiffs. ÂThese employees are using legal prescriptions under their doctorsÂ supervision. They still do their jobs perfectly well. UPS is telling them they either have to quit their medicine or be fired.Â
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 ÂinappropriateÂ for someone in recovery. UPS tests the employeeÂs urine to make sure she has stopped using her prescription. If the employee has not quit her medicine, she is fired. ÂItÂs outrageous,Â 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. ÂWhen an employer interferes with an employeeÂs medical care, it crosses a line,Â Imparato said. ÂAddiction is a disease. Many of these employees also suffer from psychological illnesses that are best treated with prescription medications. ThereÂs just no legitimate reason for UPS to be second-guessing licensed physicians. ThatÂs why we joined as a co-plaintiff.Â
What about driver safety? ÂA red herring,Â Lamberton said. ÂThereÂs no public safety issue here. WeÂre talking about the 260,000 office workers, package sorters and other employees whose jobs arenÂt safety sensitive. Drivers and pilots are not part of the case.Â
If the legal team Lamberton assembled reflects his determination to win, UPS has reason to be concerned. ÂKent Spriggs of Tallahassee is probably the top employment class action lawyer in the United States. And Claudia Center of San Francisco is an expertÂs expert on disability discrimination law. SheÂs argued ADA cases before the Supreme Court and knows all the nuances. ItÂs a highly qualified team and we have a great chemistry.Â
Asked what lies ahead, Lamberton replied, ÂWeÂre going to trial and weÂre going to win.Â 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.).
LAMBERTON LAW FIRM, LLC
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