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DISCRIMINATES: The Norwegian Anti-Discrimination Tribunal rules that global shipping giant discriminates against their customers. (Photo: UPS)

Norwegian discrimination tribunal rules against UPS

UPS discriminates against their customers. A Norwegian tribunal has ruled that the logistics giant is required to ensure that wheelchair users are allowed entry to collect their parcels.

Georg Mathisen
Publisert 07.10.2021 09:45

This is the English version of the article published in Norwegian October 6, 2021: DISKRIMINERINGSNEMNDA FELLER VERDENS STØRSTE PAKKEFRAKTSELSKAP

Access points without access. UPS has more than thirty collection points in and around Oslo. But they have no control over whether their customers actually have access to them, despite their company referring to them as “access points”.

Large step into store

A customer who was not able to enter to pick up his parcel submitted a complaint to the Norwegian Anti-Discrimination Tribunal. He was collecting his parcel at a convenience store used by UPS as a collection point. The store has a large step up to the entrance, no doorbell, and no contact information to alert the staff that you are outside.

The customer is the famous and critically acclaimed author and scholar Jan Grue. This autumn he received a prestigious freedom of speech award in Norway for his important contribution to bringing the perspective of disability into public life and debate.

His book «I Live a Life Like Yours» is recently published in the United States, where it received rave reviews in the New York Times.

Portrait of Mr. Jan Grue sitting in his power wheelchair.

ACCESS POINT WITHOUT ACCESS: The famous author promted the complaint for the tribunal – and won. (Photo: Ivar Kvistum)

Mr. Grue contacted UPS several times, but never received any response.

And also the Tribunal has only received a response to one of many inquiries to the American-owned parcel giant. In their response UPS says that the responsibility to follow rules and regulations lies with the shops used as collection points.

UPS places the responsibility on the shop

According to UPS the shops used as collection points are responsible for keeping the establishments compliant with universal design principles. In their agreements with the shops there is a provision that the establishments follow any and all applicable rules and regulations.

The Tribunal does not buy that argument:

UPS indicates the shop as the collection point, and does not supply any alternatives. There is also nothing to indicate that UPS investigates or keeps records of which collection points are universally designed. They should be aware of the possibility that not all shops are accessible.

Because of this, the tribunal finds that UPS is responsible for the collection point not being universally designed.

Warns of orders and fines

This means that UPS is discriminating against their customers. The tribunal has not given any specific order about what needs to be done, but it has stated that fines and an order to correct the issue are among the possibilities if UPS does not do anything about it.

World’s largest
  • United Parcel Service, UPS, is the world’s largest parcel shipping company.
  • The group had an 84.6 billion dollar turnover last year.
  • UPS has 543 000 employees globally.
  • Last year UPS delivered 6.3 million parcels and documents.
  • In total UPS has around 45 000 “access points”.

Tribunal leader Ivar Danielsen cannot say anything else about what is happening with the case, or about what impact the ruling might have on other shipping and logistics companies. He explains that the tribunal operates in the same way as the courts – meaning that members of the tribunal do not comment on the case.

UPS: – No comment

The global shipping company also declines to comment.

– We cannot give any response on such short notice. This is an ongoing case for us, and as such, I cannot give any more detailed information, says Hedvig Armand, head of communication for the Nordic branch of UPS.

UPS declines to answer questions about what the impact of this ruling might be on the business, how they will ensure that collection points are accessible, and which procedures need to be changed as a result of the tribunal’s ruling.

They also decline to answer how many of their collection points either need to be terminated or ordered to adapt to comply with universal design principles. Our question about what sort of consequences this might have for UPS internationally, also met with no response.

Hope for change

Mr. Jan Grue now hopes that UPS will fined.

– In the end, money is all that matters for a company like UPS. Real sanctions are the only way to bring forward change, he says to Handikapnytt.

Norges Handikapforbund
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