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Court puts equal burden on UPS, deaf drivers

December 29, 2007|From Bloomberg News

United Parcel Service Inc., the world's largest package delivery company, must prove that allowing deaf workers to drive its smaller trucks is unsafe if it wants to continue barring them from such vehicles, an appeals court said Friday.

The panel of judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco, reversing rulings by three of its members and a lower court, said Atlanta-based UPS must be given the chance to show a connection between deaf drivers and safety.

But the deaf workers also must prove they can safely drive the trucks, the panel said.

"Because UPS has linked hearing with safe driving, UPS bears the burden to prove that nexus," the panel said. "The employees, however, bear the ultimate burden to show they are qualified to perform the essential function of safely driving a package car."

The lawsuit seeks to represent 1,000 hearing-impaired UPS workers.

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