A long-time, deaf employee of UPS has sued the shipping giant after being terminated, claiming he was discriminated against because of his disability.
Roberto Ayon worked as a warehouse sorter for UPS from October 1999 until his termination in February 2016, according to the complaint. He claims he needs a sign language interpreter to communicate effectively with others.
Ayon claims that UPS rarely provided him with an interpreter despite his repeated requests. The complaint states that as a result, he was unable to follow what was being discussed at mandatory meetings, including those involving safety.
Ayon also claims he was required to watch videos covering safety rules, but they were captioned in English, a language he is not proficient in.
In February 2016 Ayon claims he witnessed a co-worker, Irreck Bowman, intimidate and threaten another co-worker, who was hard of hearing, with a pocket knife. After reporting the incident, the hard of hearing co-worker was told “that it was a cute little pocket knife, no big deal and to ignore it.”
Two days later Bowman and Ayon had a dispute during which Bowman took out a shiny object from his pocket and pantomimed slitting his throat. He also jostled Ayon on the shoulder when he walked past him.
At the end of the day Ayon claims Bowman began to threaten him again with the pocket knife, so Ayon went to his car and got his son’s baseball bat. He claims he did not come near Bowman and both men left for the day.
When Ayon was approached by a supervisor the next day to be questioned about the incident with Bowman, he requested, but was denied, a sign language interpreter so he could provide an accurate version of events.
He was shortly thereafter terminated for allegedly threatening a co-worker; Bowman was not let go. Ayon claims that UPS terminated him “because of his disability when a similarly situated non-disabled employee was not terminated,” the complaint states.
Ayon is represented by Jinny Kim of San Francisco who filed the case in the Central District of California.
Image Source: Mike Mozart (Flickr)