The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed a jury award of $100,000 in punitive damages against Federal Express Corp. for discriminating against a former package handler who is deaf. In a unanimous ruling Wednesday, the court affirmed both the punitive damages and $8,000 in compensatory damages for Ronald Lockhart, who is fluent in American Sign Language but cannot speak or read lips.
From 2000 to 2003, Lockhart worked part time as a package handler at FedEx’s Baltimore-Washington International Airport facility while he was attending the University of Maryland. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which filed the suit on Lockhart’s behalf, found in July 2002 that FedEx had violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by repeatedly refusing to provide a sign-language interpreter and other accommodations for Lockhart during employee meetings and trainings, including briefings after Sept. 11 about security issues including potential anthrax exposure, the ruling states.
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