Last week, the EEOC announced (here) that a Texas trucking company agreed to pay $65,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit. But, not just any ADA lawsuit. This one involved an amputee whom the company allegedly refused to hire as a truck driver.
Wait a minute now! An amputee as a truck driver?!? That can’t happen! Can it?
Or maybe the company should have conducted an individualized assessment. Yeah, that sounds better. Right, EEOC?
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Flying Star Transport violated federal law by denying hire to truck driver Robert Kallgren because he had had his arm amputated during his teenage years. Kallgren had more than 20 years of experience driving trucks when he applied to work for Flying Star. The company made an assessment, without evidence or proof, that there was no accommodation that would allow Kallgren to do the job safely, and failed to engage in an interactive process of exploring that with him.
Robert A. Canino, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Dallas District Office, said, “We have been impressed with Mr. Kallgren’s determination and success in pursuing active employment, and successfully performing whatever duties have been asked of him. Even today he is employed as an over-the-road truck driver, which I think speaks to his abilities in such a position. Flying Star is taking the high road with a commitment to providing opportunities to applicants and employees who may require accommodation.”
Good on Flying Star for cutting its losses.
And, in case yesterday’s post didn’t rattle your cage enough, remember that when an employee or potential hire presents with a disability, don’t just make assumptions about his or her ability to perform the essential functions of the job. Dig a little deeper. Get the facts, assess each situation on its own, and then decide whether the individual can perform the essential functions of the job with or without an accommodation.