DALLAS - Stevens Transport, the largest refrigerated trucking company in Texas and one of the top four largest temperature-controlled carriers in the United States, violated federal law when it failed or refused to hire a U.S. Air Force veteran as a truck driver because of his bipolar disorder, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.
According to EEOC's lawsuit, Bill Brown was told that he could not be hired as a truck driver for Stevens "per company policy" because of the medication he takes to control his bipolar disorder. Brown presented a report from his medical provider indicating that he was safe to drive, but the physician with whom the company contracted to do medical examinations told him he could not be hired while on those medications. There are no U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations prohibiting people on these medications from commercial truck driving, and Brown had completed an advanced truck driver training course and passed the DOT physical that is required to hold a commercial driver's license (CDL). However, despite Brown's qualifications to perform the job safely, Stevens refused to hire him, EEOC said.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which protects employees from discrimination based on their disabilities. EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Stevens Transport, Civil Action No. 3:16-cv-03325-N) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The agency seeks back pay and compensatory and punitive damages for the victim, as well as injunctive relief.
"The trucking company unlawfully refused to hire this qualified candidate, disregarding his physical exam results, his completion of training, his CDL and the positive report from his medical provider," said EEOC Regional Attorney Robert A. Canino. "The company put up an unnecessary roadblock to Mr. Brown's employment by discounting his skills and abilities as a driver when it turned him away."
EEOC Trial Attorney Meaghan L. Shepard, Sr. added, "Neither Stevens Transport nor the physician it contracted with made an individual assessment of Mr. Brown. In addition to violating the ADA, Stevens lost an opportunity to add a valuable employee to its team. Mr. Brown is a veteran who gave years of his life for his country and who has gone on to become a successful truck driver with another company - which should demonstrate his professional fitness."
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SOURCE: Press Release, EEOC Nov. 30, 2016