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Jury Orders FedEx To Pay $108,000 For Failing To Provide ASL Interpreter

BALTIMORE--A federal jury has ordered Federal Express to pay $108,000 for violating the rights of a deaf employee by failing to provide sign language interpreters.

Ronald Lockhart, a former package handler in FedEx's Baltimore Ramp, claimed that the company did not provide him a reasonable accommodation in the form of American Sign Language interpreters. After trying unsuccessfully to negotiate a pre-court settlement on Lockhart's behalf, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed the suit in District Court in September 2004.

According to an EEOC press statement, the jury found FedEx had violated Title I of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in the workplace.

The jury ordered the company to pay $8,000 in compensatory damages to Lockhart. The company must pay the remaining $100,000 as punitive damages for knowingly violating the ADA.

"This verdict sends victims and their employers a big message," said EEOC Regional Attorney Jacqueline McNair. "Employers must provide reasonable accommodations for qualified individuals with disabilities. It is the employer's responsibility to demonstrate that it is committed to fully adhere to the requirements of the ADA on behalf of disabled employees, and that they are not to be treated like second-class citizens."

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