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ADA Takes Priority Over A Collective Bargaining Agreement

The United Parcel Service was found to be in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act for a policy discriminating against temporarily disabled workers. This ruling, which came down on July 27, could have ramifications in Ohio as UPS is a nationwide company.

The lawsuit involved a driver who had suffered a stroke. Rather than retire or go on disability, he sought a non-driving position. During the time he was in his non-driving job, he was paid 90 percent of his salary, per company policy. In this case, the policy was a part of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the company and the driver's union.

The driver sued under the ADA through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The court found the employee was discriminated against solely due to a disability. This type of discrimination was a violation of Title I of the Act, according to the court decision.

In addition, the court found the CBA to be in violation of the act as a contract to violate the ADA. Thus, the court determined that the ADA superseded a written employment agreement, whether individual or collective in nature. To enforce the ruling, the court issued damages against the company and also issued an injunction to prohibit the company from enforcing that portion of the CBA. The injunction also bars the employer and union from using the clause in future CBAs.

The ADA has been a powerful tool for workers with disabilities. As in the case here, a company cannot often contract away its protections for workers. For someone who has been a victim of discriminatory practices, a company policy is not the final word on the issue. Competent legal advice from an attorney experienced in ADA claims is an intelligent step to learn about rights under the Act.

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