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Why You Should Boycott UPS: Racism, Sexual Harassment & Labor Violations at UPS

Updated on January 22, 2016
Why You Should Boycott UPS: Racism, Sexual Harassment & Labor Violation
Why You Should Boycott UPS: Racism, Sexual Harassment & Labor Violation

Racism, Sexual Harassment & Labor Violations at UPS

The American dream is built on hard work and a great education, regardless of race, gender or social class. These principles are instilled on most Americans at a very early age. It is what makes the United States so great and the ultimate destination for people seeking a better life. So, imagine your daughter being sexually harassed by a married supervisor or an educated, hard-working colleague being treated unfairly because she is the wrong color. Imagine being bypassed for a promotion because you refuse to break the law. This is happening at one America's biggest companies today! Behind the multi-million dollar PR campaigns to maintain a positive image is a pattern of blatant racism, sexual harassment issues and flagrant disregard of labor laws by United Parcel Service.

"There are so many truths that should be exposed about UPS, harassment/discrimination and noncompliance that strongly exist and are not being addressed."- Lawanda R. Davis, former UPS Safety Specialist

History of Racism:

UPS has a history of racism, ignoring racial discrimination and retaliation against employees who file complaints of racial discrimination. To get an idea of how widespread racism at United Parcel Service, Google the words, "racism" and "UPS." You will be surprised at the number of present employees, labor laws attorneys, civil rights organizations, human rights activists, retired and former workers who have voiced similar complaints about the shipping company. Below are some of the headlines from newspapers and online involving racism at United Parcel Service:


  • Attorney for the employees, Leeds, Morelli & Brown, P.C., is alleging a pattern of discrimination exists at UPS on the basis of race, gender, national origin and retaliation.

  • The NAACP filed a class action suit against UPS on the behalf of 16 African-Americans for being passed over promotions and given dangerous work assignments because of race. According to Jet Magazine, the suit was a result of an investigation launched by the Oakland branch of the NAACP.

  • UPS Race Discrimination Scandal with Clive Henry in the European Court of Human Rights

  • Racism in Hawaii was so wide-spread that UPS had to retrain all management personnel in the state according to this EEOC lawsuit

  • UPS used a coercive investigation to justify dismissing a disabled African-American employee

  • An African-American marketing professional documents her racial harassment because of her inter-racial marriage. -Her supervisors ignored racist comments and HR ignored her complaints.

  • Two fired employees sue UPS and the union because the firings were racial and discriminatory

  • An African-American filed suit for lack of advancement opportunity. At the time of the lawsuit only 2.5 % of full-time supervisors were from minority groups

  • That statistic is alerting when you consider many UPS faculties are in the inner city and the racial makeup in very high. One of the UPS faculties, I worked at was at least 80% Latino and African-American.

  • Four African-Americans in Las Vegas, file suit for unequal supervision and unfair work assignments The UPSers accused the company of engaging in a continuing practice of racial discrimination.

  • African-Americans in the Pacific region file a class action suit for poor advancement and poor initial work assignments and the result is a $12.14 million settlement.

  • NAACP files another case action lawsuit against UPS

With the massive number of Teamster grievances, EEOC complaints, unemployment cases lost, complaints to state and federal labor agencies, low number of minorities in supervisor positions, lost court case rulings and discrimination complaints filed with the NAACP, UPS is fully aware racism is a serious problem within their company.

In fact, a former UPS vice president acknowledged there was a problem in a speech at a historically black college. He stated, "There is discrimination. There is a glass ceiling. I'm not naive, and I won't try to deny it." - Calvin Darden, United Parcel Service former senior vice-president, at Fort Valley State University.

Despite this admission, a large number of complaints and a court ruling, UPS has refused to take steps to solve the issue. The company is even fighting a court ruling in Massachusetts to have their management go through racial and sexual harassment training. The company generates billions in revenue off the sweat and labor of minorities while falsely portraying a public image that it is a great workplace for minorities.

"Mrs. Mercer meet with Mr. Julian Bond today in Raleigh, NC. Mr. Bond told her that National Office (of the NAACP) has a lot of claims against UPS." - J. Ronald White

I have also received hundreds of messages from Teamster representatives and union members who tell me, UPS arrogantly refuses to correct this issue and support their managers and supervisors actions. They want their managers to be hard-nosed therefore racial discrimination complaints are not taken seriously; they refuse to acknowledge many have crossed the line and treat minorities differently than Causation employees. Latino and African-Americans are given the worst work assignments, micromanaged, harassed and treated as second class citizens by managers who feed into the stereotype that minorities are lazy.

"These employees are hardworking, dedicated individuals who have been subjected to unacceptable working conditions at the hands of an insensitive and negligent management team," - Attorney Lenard Leeds

Many UPS supervisors have a large number of racial discrimination complaints that the company does not even investigate. Some have amassed hundreds in their career at UPS. Instead of reprimanding them, many supervisors are given promotions because the company supports and views their management style as being hard noised and productive. Take a look at message boards like complainfile.com and you will discover employees nationwide making the same claims.


Personal Observations of Racism:

In my career, I have worked in governmental agencies (both federal and state) and in a corporation settings. I have never observed racial discrimination as blatant and widespread as it is at United Parcel Service. In nearly a decade and a half as a Teamster and UPS employee, I have observed:

  • Racial Slurs

  • Micromanagement of minorities due to racial stereotypes

  • Supervisors refusing to treat minorities with respect

  • Violation of the Civil Rights Act

  • Unfair and uneven punishment towards minorities

  • Harassment

  • Least desirable work assignments

  • Retaliation of employees who file injury reports or racial complaints

  • Minorities pursing advanced degrees with management experience bypassed for management positions in favor of someone without a college degree and no experience

For many Latinos, African-American and women going to work at UPS feels like hell on earth. The company has a history of not taking action on racial complaints reported to human resources and upper management. I witnessed UPS management, at Bradley Airport, fail to address this issue by completely ignoring the large number of discrimination union grievance against their supervisors and other overwhelming evidence.

One supervisor had seven complaints by five different employees in a span of six weeks. One employee filed eight complaints against this supervisor in three months. A meeting was finally arranged and his manager did not even take the time to read the grievances. He threw the pile of complaints back at the union rep and stated, "I don't care what it says, and I’m going to support the actions of my supervisor, over the word of an hourly employee." This married supervisor was also involved in a relationship with a subordinate. I also discovered he had been involved in a similar relationship years prior. If the company refuses to take action against a supervisor who is openly violating company policy, in what situation would they ever take action against any supervisor? Now, if this was your daughter, wife or mother, is that the type of work environment you want them working in?

"Mr. Ford was accused by other UPS employees of sexual misconduct, but UPS has done nothing in reply...UPS is reputed to run roughshod over its workers and punish those who dare to complain... Its Shrewsbury, Massachusetts warehouse, where Mr. Sobocinski works, is rife with abusive and sexually explicit language, as described by UPS managers themselves. Despite broad training on internal UPS systems, managers there are not taught about discrimination laws or held accountable for violating them. The result is broad anecdotal evidence of abuse by management that may have persisted for decades. "- Jack Merrill, UPS Hit Hard in Discrimination Lawsuit

While listening to a Christian radio station a few months ago, I heard a report of UPS firing a pregnant employee because she was unable to be the physical demands of her job. I began to think of how the company has managed to keep their unfair treatment of woman out of the mainstream media. I also began to think of things I personally saw and heard. One of the most difficult and disappointing things to see at UPS was the treatment of women.

History of Sexual Harassment:

If you do a quick internet search using the words "sexual harassment" and "UPS," you will see a history of sexual harassment complaints that went unchecked by the company and a pattern of retaliation against employees who file complaints. Below are some of the articles involving sexual harassment at United Parcel Service:

  • A jury awards $80.7 million to a former manager who said UPS retaliated against her for filing sexual harassment complaints (chicagolegalnet.com)

  • Schwartz & Perry Wins $1.33 Million Verdict Against UPS for Sexual Harassment

  • Former UPS Driver Awarded $600k in Sexual Harassment Suit

  • UPS Freight to Pay $120,000 to Settle EEOC Sexual Harassment and Retaliation Suit

  • UPS Liable for Sexual Harassment Because Supervisors Failed to Report Observed Incidents

  • Lesbian Package Car Driver Wins Hostile Workplace Lawsuit

  • NY Woman Files Harassment Lawsuit

  • UPS Hit Hard in Discrimination Lawsuit, framinghamlegal.com

  • UPS Manager (at Bronx office) sexually attacked female security guard

  • UPS Worker Claims Supervisor Sexually Harassed Him

  • Clark v. United Parcels Service Inc.

For a company who prides itself on "running the tightest ship in the shipping business," UPS has done very little to ensure the safety of its female employees when it comes to sexual harassment. While UPS claims to have a "zero tolerance" policy on sexual harassment and racial discrimination, it appears the company takes a blind's eye on complaints. The company, failing to investigate and punishing those who violate sexual harassment laws is completely inexcusable.

Personal Observations of Sexual Harassment:

  • Married supervisors and managers engaged in inappropriate sexual relationships with subordinates

  • Sexual harassment complaints ignored

  • Female employees fired for making sexual harassment complaints

  • Supervisors use power to pressure employees into a sexual relationship

  • Sexual comments are common (almost daily) in the workplace

  • Complaints made to human resources, upper management, and harassment hot-line and to union are ignored

While racism is talked about between the black and Latino male employees at UPS, sexual harassment is almost never discussed or acknowledged. I think the lack of discussions has allowed this problem to grow, thus making it extremely unbearable for many women. Some supervisors use their position to explore their sexual fantasies with young woman and women of color. Many supervisors are not held accountable for sexual harassment because the shipping company refuses to deal with the problem.

Violation of Labor Laws:

"I worked for UPS for three years, two and a half as a supervisor (in Upstate New York). They break every law labor imaginable." - Former UPS supervisor, complaintsboard.com

When I think of the phrase "If you ain't cheating, you ain't trying," the management style at United Parcel Service comes to mind. It perfectly summarizes how the shipping giant operates. I have discovered many unethical things at UPS. Supervisors violate state and federal laws on a regular basis because they know they get away this it. Their chances of being caught and punished are slim to none. Some of the obvious labor violates, I have personally heard about and witnessed include:

  • Stealing time from employees

  • Verbal Abuse and Physical violence against employees

  • Supervisors meeting employees in the parking lot to fight

  • Violation of OSHA regulations

  • Threats to employees for filing complaints

  • Illegal Terminations

  • Refusal to file an injury report

  • Retaliation of employees who file an injury report


Stealing time from employees

A college friend and former UPS part-time supervisor explained and warned me about this practice by full-time UPS supervisors. Imagine your boss subtracting a few minutes from the time of 200 employees each night. This practice saves the company thousands (per year) in payroll just on one shift alone. Although illegal and unethical, I have noticed this at several different UPS facilities. One supervisor even bragged at it in front of a union steward.


Verbal Abuse and Physical Violence

I have noticed verbal abuse and the threat of physical violence at United Parcel Service. The company simply looks the other way when a supervisor uses verbal abuse and the treat of physical abuse. I have witnessed supervisors call employees "losers" because they were still working at UPS after obtaining their college degree in a completely different field. I have also watched supervisors take a swing at an employee. One supervisor left his shift early and met an employee at his car to initiate a fist fight.


Refusal to file an injury report

United Parcel Service seems to employ supervisors who have no problem breaking state and federal labor laws. One blatant violation of state and federal law, I realized is the refusal to file an injury report. In Connecticut and according to OSHA regulations, it is mandatory that employers file an injury report if an employee is injured. At UPS, supervisors will first try to talk an employee out of filing an injury report. They make promises of predating the report if the employee doesn't feel better in a few days. Later, they will try to intimidate the employee not to file an injury or completely refuse to an injury report at all.


"Also, since I worked as a Safety Specialist for the company I have knowledge and witnessed violations of OSHA laws in which many of the documents that OSHA reviews were falsified to appear compliant.” - Lawanda R. Davis, former UPS Safety Specialist, complaintsboard.com


Harassment and retaliation of employees who file injury report

Another outright violation of labor laws at UPS is the harassment and retaliation of employees who insist on filing an injury or complaint. Employees are usually threatened with warning letters which could lead to termination. One co-worker was met by a supervisor from another shift and was pressured not to follow through with his plan to file an injury report. His supervisors stalled for weeks until he filed an injury report with a government agency. The employee eventually had to have back surgery. Another employee insisted on an injury report because his doctor needed it to get paid for his services. The employee was given an illegal warning letter, harassed by management for months and fired during his leave of absence. This was a clear violation of the federal family leave act! In the end, the employee won this case with the Connecticut Department of Labor.

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    • AJ Bray profile image

      AJ Bray 2 years ago

      You see, "Bradmaster" that is the EXACT problem being addressed in this article! Without even realizing what you wrote, you actually hit the nail on head: UPS BROKE THE LAW. Actually, from what I can tell, they've broken a myriad of laws -- laws put in place to keep business owners from running roughshod over their employees' rights.

      Take the ADA for example. This is a law that I deal with every single day, not just as a person in a wheelchair, but also as a Disability Rights Advocate. I literally canNOT count the times -- nor even give an approximate educated guesstimate -- of how many business owners, inspectors, managers, and even mayors and other politicians in high offices, have either tried to feed me complete lines of you-know-what, or have just completely written off my detailed audits of their ADA violations.

      Now, the Americans With Disabilities Act is a federal Civil Rights Law, but it was also put into place for the safety, health, and well-being -- not to mention for the independence, freedom, and to maximize the normality -- of persons with disabilities. It is not a pacifier, it is not meant to be taken lightly, or just left on the books to placate us—it is a very serious act; approved with bipartisan ratification by Congress and Senate, signed into law by the president himself.

      Additionally, in the 25+ years since it was put into action, it has been strengthened, changed to adapt to new discoveries and advancements, and has been made ever-more stringent on the *business owners* and municipalities, and INFINITELY more understanding of the ways persons with disabilities live their lives. Now, I get so much backlash when I point out violations—mostly EXACT mirrors of YOUR comments—that I can see why many other advocates throw in the towel. (Which I have NO intention of doing, BTW -- EVER. *grin*)

      But it's a law. There is no, "Well, if you don't like what we did, or the lack of equality, don't stay in our hotel," or, "If you don't like our lack of accessibility, just eat in a different restaurant. It's YOUR CHOICE, after all."

      No.

      Until business owners understand that when they hang out their shingle— myself included (which is why I DON'T) —they've abruptly put themselves into a different level of scrutiny. You need a different attorney, a different type of phone service, a different INTERNET package, different zoning, and (obviously), a totally different accountant. As the daughter of a successful business owner of almost 15 years, I know how it changes literally EVERYTHING. They've chosen to subject themselves to different laws and potential censure that goes beyond the freedom of one person acting alone and now face, quite suddenly, an onus to the people.

      An onus to people they employ; to the people they serve; to the people and with whom they form alliances as such...

      And to many, MANY other people along that pipeline that we refer to simply as "Business."

    • bradmasterOCcal profile image

      bradmasterOCcal 2 years ago from Orange County California

      Why can't a private business be free to do whatever they want to run their own business.

      As long as they don't commit crimes, it seems like a social issue.

      It is like dating, if you don't like the way your partner treats you, then you break up the relationship. You don't ask the government to force the relationship to your liking.

      Do you have a problem with the way that the government treats its employees, giving them job security, a real retirement plan, the best benefits, like health insurance, while at the same time the government does nothing to stop the private companies from forcing their employees or their candidates to sign an At Will Employment Contract?

      Do you have a problem with the government, because they bailed out the financial industry, but they didn't get them to change the way they do business.

      What about the government forcing you to spend time and money just to keep your records, and file your taxes every year. In addition, they force you to waive your 4th and 5th Amendment rights, as well as forcing you to sign your taxes under criminal penalty of perjury.

      If these government mandates don't bother you, then why should what a private company does bother you?