JURY AWARDS MILLIONS TO DEAF, PART-TIME FEDEX PACKAGE HANDLER DENIED REASONABLE ACCOMMODATIONS
For Immediate Release: May 15, 2023
J. Bernard Alexander, Esq. (310) 394-0888
Bryan Schwartz, Esq. (510) 444-9300
SAN JOSE, CA – Late Friday, a Santa Clara County jury awarded $2 million to Younes Mchaar, a deaf, low-wage, former FedEx Ground part-time package handler who was repeatedly denied reasonable accommodations and the interactive process at the company’s San Jose facility. Even after FedEx agreed to provide accommodations, he was denied live American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters for safety meetings and was denied Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) for daily meetings that all other package handlers attended.
The jury verdict also found that FedEx failed to prevent this discrimination against him despite FedEx Ground having previously been sued by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on behalf of deaf package handlers nationwide. The EEOC and FedEx ultimately entered a consent decree, after Mr. Mchaar’s employment ended. FedEx sought to argue that Plaintiff was not harmed by the denied accommodations – but the jury strongly disagreed in its $2 million verdict for back wages and emotional distress.
In FedEx’s closing argument, it took issue with Plaintiff blaming the individual FedEx managers, but Bernard Alexander, of Alexander Morrison + Fehr, LLP, of one of Mr. Mchaar’s lead attorneys, responded: “[C]orporations have an obligation to manage down, to make sure that the rules that they have in place are actually followed. And if the company does not do that, the consequence is a lawsuit like this.”
“No one should have to endure what Mr. Mchaar went through,” said Mr. Mchaar’s other lead counsel, Bryan Schwartz, of Bryan Schwartz Law, P.C. He added, “FedEx knew that it had a problem with failing to accommodate deaf workers, and yet, once again failed, despite Mr. Mchaar begging repeatedly for support so he could be a fully participating member of the workplace.”
Mr. Mchaar reports that he is thrilled with the verdict, which provides a measure of justice in the case he has been pursuing since 2019, first at the EEOC, and then in Santa Clara County Superior Court.
The lawsuit is Santa County Superior Court Case No. 20CV366270.
Younes Mchaar is represented by J. Bernard Alexander and Jacqueline Gil, of Alexander Morrison & Fehr, LLP, and Bryan Schwartz and Renato Flores, of Bryan Schwartz Law, P.C. FedEx Ground is represented by Fisher Phillips, LLP.
About the Plaintiff Younes Mchaar
Plaintiff Younes Mchaar, who has been deaf since birth, began working at FedEx Ground in 2011 as a part-time package handler in Virginia. In April 2017, Mr. Mchaar transferred to the company’s San Jose, California facility, anticipating reasonable accommodations to assist in routine communications. It took until December 2017 for the company to arrange a meeting with him about reasonable accommodations. At that point, FedEx agreed to provide ASL interpreters for all safety meetings and VRI for daily meetings. However, thereafter, ASL interpreters were often not present at safety meetings, and the VRI did not even arrive at the facility until June 2018 – after which, it was glitchy. After Mr. Mchaar vigorously complained about denied reasonable accommodations, he was written up 10 times in 2 ½ months and proposed for termination, at which point he resigned.
About Alexander Morrison + Fehr, LLP
Alexander Morrison & Fehr is led by Bernard Alexander, a trial attorney who prosecutes demanding private and public sector employment litigation. He has tried over sixty cases to verdict, and he has won six-, seven- and eight-figure judgments for claims of discrimination, harassment and retaliation based on gender, race, age, sex, sexual orientation and disability. He has resolved dozens of binding arbitrations and hundreds of mediations with successful results
About Bryan Schwartz Law, P.C.
Bryan Schwartz Law, P.C. is dedicated to continuing the struggle for civil rights and equality of employment opportunity and helping Americans from every background to achieve their highest career potential. The firm has recovered tens of millions of dollars for tens of thousands of workers in individual, class, and collective actions involving discrimination and retaliation, harassment, denied disability accommodations, whistleblower reprisal, wage and hour violations, Federal employees’ rights, and severance negotiations. The firm’s historic 2023 settlement in Meyer, et al. v. U.S. Department of State has opened the career Foreign Service to people with disabilities.
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