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NINTH CIRCUIT TACKLES SIGHT AND SOUND IN EMPLOYMENT CASES It was apparently a coincidence that the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals heard a case about deaf delivery drivers on the same day it issued an opinion on partially blind delivery drivers. “It was very bizarre,” said Claudia Center, a lawyer with the Legal Aid Society’s Employment Law Center who worked on the blindness case. Both suits involved United Parcel Service’s policies toward disabled drivers. And in both cases, the court had mixed reactions to plaintiff arguments that people with partial vision or hearing loss should be allowed to drive small delivery trucks. In the first case, a three-judge panel issued a unanimous opinion on Sept. 15 saying that while drivers with partial monocular vision are disabled according to state law (the court ruled previously that they are not disabled under federal law), the plaintiffs were not entitled to jobs at UPS. Center wrote an amicus curiae brief in that case, Hogya v. United Parcel Service, C.D.O.S. 8382. The decision, she said, complicates an already messy tangle of blindness precedents by creating a new defense for employers who argue that disabled employers jeopardize the safety of others. “I’m concerned about future cases because everyone’s going to be citing this panel opinion on the defense,” she said. Center was in court later that same day when another three-judge panel heard arguments that partially deaf workers should be allowed to drive trucks weighing less than 10,000 pounds, since they are exempt from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s hearing standard. Todd Schneider, a lawyer representing plaintiffs in the case, Bates v. UPS, 04-17295, was optimistic. “I thought the judges asked the right questions,” said Schneider, whose co-counsel, Lawrence Paradis of Disability Rights Advocates, argued the case to the Ninth Circuit panel. And while Judge Marsha Berzon, Senior Judge Betty Fletcher and Senior Eighth Circuit Judge John Gibson, sitting by designation, seemed skeptical of UPS’s argument that it could apply the federal standard for trucks weighing more than 10,000 pounds to lighter trucks, they did not give a clear sign of which way they would rule. But Schneider said he hoped the panel would see the case as a typical civil rights issue. “There’s a stereotype out there that says, ‘Deaf people are not safe,’” he said. “Of course, that’s no different from the stereotype we broke down years ago saying women couldn’t be police or firefighters.” &# 151 Justin Scheck JURIST AWARDED FOR DEDICATION Staffers for Patricia Bamattre-Manoukian threw the longtime jurist a party last week. Bamattre-Manoukian, a justice with the Sixth District Court of Appeal since 1989, received the Jurist of the Year Award from the Judicial Council of California earlier this month. “I am greatly honored and very humbled,” Bamattre-Manoukian said. “I share this award with the wonderful people who have worked with me on my many educational and outreach projects,” she added. The award honors jurists for their “extraordinary dedication to the highest principles of the administration of justice,” according to a statement from the Judicial Council. In 2003, Bamattre-Manoukian coordinated the state Supreme Court’s public outreach program in the Sixth District. She is also involved in legal education programs around the community and within schools. She taught for several years in the Orange County Shortstop Juvenile Justice Diversion Program. She has also taught at local high schools, colleges and bar association seminars. Currently, Bamattre-Manoukian chairs the Appellate Justices Education Committee of the Center for Judicial Education and Research Governing Committee. She is also on the Appellate Court Security Committee. &# 151 Julie O’Shea

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