Supreme Court declines to take case involving UPS driver suing company over denial of requested accommodations for work-related injuries

November 7, 2023
Ben Marquis

A UPS delivery driver in West Virginia who suffered job-related injuries sued the company for declining his requests for certain accommodations that he believed were necessary to continue working.

After losing the case at both the district and appeals court levels, the driver petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to review the matter but was also denied on Monday, according to FreightWaves.

That denial of certiorari by the high court means that a 4th Circuit Court panel's ruling in favor of UPS against the injured driver seeking special accommodations for his disability will stand.

Initial victories in state court overmatched by losses in federal court

According to The Epoch Times, West Virginia-based UPS delivery driver Jay Hannah suffered work-related injuries to his lower back, hips, and buttocks that were purportedly caused by the stiff suspension on the large delivery truck he drove on a regular route for the company.

He requested the company make certain accommodations for him, including allowing him to drive a smaller truck with a softer suspension or transferring him to a non-driving position. Both of those requests were denied by the company.

Hannah first sued in state court and won at both the district court and West Virginia Supreme Court, at least in that he had suffered "compensable injuries" on the job, but the case continued in federal court with a claim made under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Unfortunately for Hannah, both the federal district court and the 4th Circuit appeals panel sided with UPS instead of him. They ruled that the company had not violated the ADA -- decisions that will stand now that the U.S. Supreme Court has declined to take up the case.

Requests for "reasonable accommodations" for work-related injuries denied

At issue here, according to Justia, was whether the requests made by Hannah of UPS constituted "reasonable accommodations" under the federal ADA law.

UPS had determined that Hannah's request for a smaller delivery vehicle was not reasonable given that it would not be able to hold the same number of packages as the normal larger truck, as well as that making such a switch would violate the company's collective bargaining agreement with the drivers union by requiring Hannah or other drivers to be on the road making deliveries for longer than the maximum allowed 9.5 hours.

It also determined that allowing Hannah to use a smaller truck or van would require him to make multiple trips to complete his deliveries, which would not be cost-effective, would increase mileage and fuel costs and maintenance on the vehicle, and reduce safety by increasing the risks of an accident.

As for Hannah's alternative request for a transfer to an "inside job" that didn't require driving, UPS asserted that no such positions were available at the time and instead placed the injured driver on an unpaid leave of absence in order for him to recover and return to work, which Hannah ultimately did after several months.

Hannah failed to prove that his requests were "reasonable"

Justia reported that the federal district issued a summary judgment in favor of UPS and ruled that Hannah had failed to prove that his requests for accommodations had been reasonable as well as that UPS placing him on unpaid leave while he recovered was reasonable.

That decision was then affirmed on appeal by the 4th Circuit panel, as they agreed that Hannah had been unable to present sufficient evidence to convince a jury that his requests were reasonable and the company had acted unreasonably in denying them.

The Epoch Times noted that the attorneys representing UPS did not respond to a request for comment on the Supreme Court's denial of the petition, nor did Hannah's attorney comment on the undoubtedly disappointing development that essentially ends the matter.

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