Trucking Company Refused to Hire Applicant After Learning He Had Taken Medical Leave at a Previous Job, Federal Agency Charges
DALLAS – A refrigerated transport carrier that services major companies in need of over-the-road trucking violated federal law by discriminating against an applicant based on his disability, hyper-tension, and because it regarded him as disabled, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today. The EEOC’s suit also alleges that Stevens Transport, Inc. violated the law when it asked the applicant a disability-related question before an offer of employment was made.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit against Dallas-based Stevens Transport, the applicant applied to work for the company in August 2019. During his interview, the applicant was asked whether a gap in his employment reflected on his resume was related to a medical reason. That question led the applicant to disclose that he had been diagnosed with hypertension in a previous job, which caused him to require medical leave. The EEOC’s suit alleges that Stevens Transport did not hire him because he disclosed his prior use of medical leave during the job interview.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which protects employees from discrimination based on their disabilities and limits an employer’s ability to make disability-related inquiries. The EEOC filed suit, Civil Action No. 3:21-cv-02272, in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. In this case, the EEOC seeks back pay and compensatory and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief, including an order barring Stevens Transport from engaging in discriminatory treatment in the future.
“Employers may not make any disability-related inquiries before a job offer has been made,” said Meaghan Kuelbs, senior trial attorney in the EEOC’s Dallas District Office. “And, should such information be elicited during the application process, the ADA expressly prohibits the exclusion of a candidate for hire simply because of his status as a person with a disability.”
Suzanne Anderson, acting regional attorney for the Dallas District Office, added, “It is critical for employers to carefully consider an applicant’s qualifications to perform the work, rather than his medical conditions.”
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.