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UPS Accused Of Increasing Ky. Workers' COVID-19 Risk

By Melissa Angell · March 2, 2021, 10:23 PM EST

A union representing UPS workers accused the package delivery company of operating unsanitary Louisville, Kentucky, facilities in which its workers face an "imminent risk" of catching COVID-19, according to a proposed class action removed Tuesday to federal court.

Tim Boyle first sued UPS in Kentucky state court, arguing that the Louisville facility fails to comply with basic health standards, has "squalid conditions" and is a hazard to UPS workers, especially amid the coronavirus pandemic.

UPS is accused of not keeping its restrooms clean by not providing paper towels, soap wipes and hand sanitizer. Walls at the facility are covered in waste particles, while water and food preparation areas are dirty, according to the complaint. The union reported a number of cleaning deficiencies to UPS, but the company did not take adequate action, the complaint says.

"Despite proactive suggestions by the union, the company has failed to address the ubiquitous sanitary deficiencies that have been running the gamut of its facilities," the complaint says.

The complaint cites an instance in which a class member informed UPS that he had tested positive for the coronavirus, but the company did not notify the co-worker who worked adjacent to him until the next day. The desks they sat at were allegedly never cleaned and the company's nurse failed to conduct any contact tracing, the complaint says. Another example says that a class member allegedly used the same truck as a worker who had tested positive for the coronavirus and was not informed until roughly two weeks later.

Boyle argues in his complaint that the company's claims of implementing enhanced cleaning protocols is far from reality and that the uncleanliness in the facilities pose a risk for UPS workers and the community at large.

"Increased community spread at UPS's Louisville, Kentucky Gateway will cause increased community spread throughout the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and potentially other states as well," the complaint says.

Two employees at a Louisville facility passed away due to the coronavirus in April, according to the complaint.

Boyle seeks to represent a proposed class of those who are active members of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 2727. He wants a judge to require UPS to establish a deep cleaning plan, cleaning guidance and a schedule with the union. 

David Suetholz, an attorney representing Boyle, told Law360 on Tuesday that the suit was properly filed in state court.

"Tim Boyle's complaint concerning the public nuisance created by the Defendant's filthy bathrooms and lack of proper cleaning during this pandemic was properly filed in state court and we are confident it will be remanded there after we brief the matter," he said. 

UPS declined to comment on active litigation, but a spokesperson said the health and safety of its employees is extremely important to the company. The spokesperson also shared steps the company has implemented to keep its employees safe, such as increasing cleaning measures at its facilities.

Boyle is represented by David O'Brien Suetholz and Peter Jannace of Branstetter Stranch & Jennings PLLC.

UPS is represented by Meredith J. Kingsley of Alston & Bird LLP.

The case is Tim Boyle v. United Parcel Service Co., case number 3:21-cv-00135, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky.

--Editing by Regan Estes.

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