Motor carrier hit with three-year requirement to keep, share applicant info

01/18/2024

Federal judge ordered carrier to $335,682 to deaf truck driver applicant

A federal judge ordered an international motor carrier to collect and submit driver application information to the government for three years and pay $335,682 to a deaf truck driver.

The decision came after an Omaha jury found in favor of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on disability discrimination claims.

Background

In 2016, Victor, who is deaf, applied for a job at the carrier but was not hired. Despite graduating from truck driving school, obtaining a commercial driver's license, and receiving an exemption from the hearing regulation for operating a commercial motor vehicle, Victor faced discrimination.

The EEOC filed a lawsuit on Victor's behalf under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). After a trial last year, the jury found the carrier guilty of violating the ADA and awarded Victor $36 million in punitive damages and $75,000 in compensatory damages.

In a judgment entered on January 10, 2024, however, the judge reduced the damages to $300,000, as required by federal law for employment discrimination cases. The judge also awarded Victor $35,682 in lost wages.

The result

As a result of the reduced damages, the judge imposed semi-annual recording and reporting requirements on the carrier to help ensure future compliance. The carrier must keep records of hearing-impaired applicants for over-the-road truck driving positions, including:

  • Every hearing-impaired applicant who applied for an over-the-road truck driving position,
  • The date of the application,
  • Whether the applicant was hired,
  • When the applicant was told about the employment decision,
  • The basis for declining to hire the applicant, and
  • Whether the applicant remained with the carrier for six months and, if not, the reason for the separation.

After three years, the court will review the carrier's compliance with the order and decide if any changes to the injunction are necessary.

Key to Remember: Judges have leeway to impose requirements on employers who violate laws. Since the jury's award of $36 million was reduced by so much, the judge in the case found another way to ensure the company didn't violate the law in the future.

This article was written by Darlene M. Clabault, SHRM-CP, PHR, CLMS, of J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc. The content of these news items, in whole or in part, MAY NOT be copied into any other uses without consulting the originator of the content.

The J. J. Keller FMLA Manager service is your business resource for tracking employee leave and ensuring compliance with the latest Federal and State FMLA requirements.