Mr. Vaughan was employed by UPS as a Part-Time Supervisor, responsible for walking through the hub to ensure quality control as packages were loaded, clearing jams, and building "package walls." This job requires the employee to stand and walk up to five and one half hours a day, to lift, lower, push, pull, leverage and manipulate equipment and/or packages weighing up to 70 pounds and to lift packages above the shoulder.
Mr. Vaughan suffered a neck and shoulder injury while at work. He obtained medical treatment and had surgery. UPS allowed Mr. Vaughan to return to work on "light duty" with specific medical restrictions. His doctor then issued permanent work restrictions that prohibited him from standing or walking more than four hours, lifting more than twenty pounds "more than occasionally," and lifting above the shoulder. UPS concluded that given the permanent restrictions, Mr. Vaughan would be unable to work in the capacity of Part-Time Supervisor because the restrictions prevented him from performing the essential functions of that position. Mr. Vaughan asked if he was eligible for another position at UPS that did not involve heavy lifting. UPS informed him that there were no such positions available and that no one could meet with him to discuss this. Mr. Vaughan voluntarily resigned from UPS as part of the settlement of a worker's compensation lawsuit. He brought this action for disability discrimination under the ADA shortly after.
UPS argued that the plaintiff failed to establish the first two elements of ADA employment discrimination: 1) that he is an individual with a disability, and 2) he is otherwise qualified to perform the essential functions of the job with or without reasonable accommodation. UPS disputed whether Mr. Vaughan's impairment substantially limits his participation in major life activities.
The court concluded Mr. Vaughan raised an issue of material fact whether he is substantially limited in his ability to work in the class of jobs involving heavy labor and, thus, met the first element for discrimination under the ADA that he is a qualified individual with a disability.
Therefore, Mr. Vaughan established the second element of discrimination under the ADA.
Mr. Vaughan raised issues of material fact whether UPS discriminated against him on the basis of his disability by failing to provide a reasonable accommodation, and denied UPS's motion for summary judgment (i.e., to dismiss the case).
An individual with a back condition may be substantially limited in his ability to work if the condition "prevents [him] from performing any heavy labor job," even if he is able to perform jobs in another class.