Drivers

Judge Rules Against Old Dominion in EEOC Case

June 28, 2013

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Old Dominion Freight Line's policy of not allowing drivers back behind the wheel after treatment for alcoholism was found to violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Old Dominion Freight Line's policy of not allowing drivers back behind the wheel after treatment for alcoholism was found to violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.

A federal judge in Arkansas has ruled against Old Dominion Freight Line in a case over a truck driver who self-reported alcohol abuse and the company’s “no return” policy for drivers who suffer from such problems.

The case was brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission nearly a year ago. The agency claimed the carrier violated the Americans With Disabilities Act.

The driver at the Fort Smith location had worked for the company for five years without incident. In late June 2009, the employee reported to the company that he believed he had an alcohol problem. Under U.S. Department of Transportation regulations, the employer suspended the employee from his driving position and referred him for substance abuse counseling. 

ODFL also informed the driver that the employer would never return him to a driving position, even upon the successful completion of  a counseling program. During the investigation, the EEOC says it discovered drivers at other service centers whom the employer had allegedly subjected to similar treatment.

The judge agreed with EEOC's claim that alcoholism is a recognized disability under the Americans With Disabilities Act and therefore ODFL's policy violates this federal law.

The case has yet to be concluded. The EEOC is seeking monetary relief in the form of reinstatement to a driving position, back pay and compensatory and punitive damages, compensation for lost benefits for two drivers and an injunction against future discrimination.

Comments

  1. 1. Ben Wiesen [ July 01, 2013 @ 03:43AM ]

    I think that the picture says it all - drivers don't drive in isolation. They have (in the picture anyway) 56 feet of trailer behind them, and they drive on the same roads we drive on. We are not talking about a situation where a widget might be made with a defect if the employee has a hangover. We are talking about the safety of our children, our family, and our friends. ODFL is doing the right thing, and we all know it. Shame on the EEOC. And I'd love to hear from FMCSA on this one.

  2. 2. BarbRRB [ July 01, 2013 @ 06:25AM ]

    Ben - was you in the courtroom? Do you have all the facts? I read that the driver admitted of a "past" problem. We all have problems. I believe in the good of people and some do change for the best. The drug and alcohol program for drivers has many flaws. FMCSA is trying to close those loopholes. I know what the regulations. Wrote a company policy myself and have had training in this area. What I have read ODFL is wrong and the judge followed the laws.

  3. 3. Robert Wood [ July 01, 2013 @ 06:44AM ]

    follow the money.... When (not if) a driver with an admitted drinking problem is involved in an accident (regardless of fault), the Company who "allowed" them to drive will be the "evil corporation" who did not protect the public's safety. The EEOC is just shoving its power around, and does not care what laws or regulations it breaks. So will the EEOC pay the bills when the truck line is sued? NO The Truck line will get to pay lawyers and defendants twice.

  4. 4. Jeff Washburn [ July 01, 2013 @ 06:59AM ]

    EEOC power to penalize a company for doing the right thing, by getting a driver off the road, without regard for the public safety, which is the reason for the no-return to service policy. This is another example of the wisdom of bureaucrats.

  5. 5. Brian Heavner [ July 01, 2013 @ 07:15AM ]

    BarbRRB - It doesn't matter if Ben had all the facts. He has the same facts that you do. Problems are problems, and if the nature of your problem a safety concern, then one should look for employment where that problem is not a safety concern. Driving a truck is not a right. If you have had an alcohol problem, then look for another line of work. Very few people would have an issue if a day care facility or school termed a person after they admitted to having had a problem with being sexually attracted to children. Old Dome met their obligation to this employee, I feel, by making the program available to him.

  6. 6. pohmart [ July 02, 2013 @ 08:12PM ]

    What ever happened to helping / assisting an employee who was strong enough to recognize the problem and wanted to correct it before a tragic situation?

    He is a strong person when he told his employer he had a problem and ask for help to correct it. He should be rewarded with all the help that can be provided. OD, your an asshole for not supporting such a strong individual.

    In most cases people with problems hide behind the problem, and then there is a horrific incident pushing a company into an unnecessary situation. Stop and think, just for a minute, how much money he has saved the company by telling you in advance.

    To the driver; you are an amazing person, and congratulations to you for having the strength and telling your employer, caring enough for all the people who you might have come in contact with on the roadways, and most of all caring about the company you worked for. I am sorry that your company has hired two-legged jackasses. In an industry who has little regard for rules and supporting their employers, you clearly stand out.

    Good Luck!!!

  7. 7. Nick Schaeffer [ August 07, 2013 @ 05:39AM ]

    The problem is that ANY relapse in drug or alcohol abuse while driving can be tragic....Not unlike passenger cars but they are allowed to drive "as long as they don't get caught" The company MUST address it because if there IS an accident the attorneys will say "why did you let them drive again?"

  8. 8. ODFL DRIVER [ January 09, 2014 @ 01:43PM ]

    I am employed by this company out of IL. The service center i am from DES is horrible we as drivers are being forced into working 12+ Hour shifts, drivers here have stated that we too have families at home , they simply say " the more time spent here the longer your family will be together" so i know how evil this company is. Old dominion does not care for its employees unless you are in a management position!

  9. 9. ODFL DRIVER [ January 09, 2014 @ 01:43PM ]

    I am employed by this company out of IL. The service center i am from DES is horrible we as drivers are being forced into working 12+ Hour shifts, drivers here have stated that we too have families at home , they simply say " the more time spent here the longer your family will be together" so i know how evil this company is. Old dominion does not care for its employees unless you are in a management position!

  10. 10. ODFL DRIVER [ January 09, 2014 @ 01:44PM ]

    I am employed by this company out of IL. The service center i am from DES is horrible we as drivers are being forced into working 12+ Hour shifts, drivers here have stated that we too have families at home , they simply say " the more time spent here the longer your family will be together" so i know how evil this company is. Old dominion does not care for its employees unless you are in a management position!

  11. 11. Greg [ February 02, 2014 @ 05:23PM ]

    It's a sad world we live in when a judge tells a company they have to employ a drunk, and endanger the public because its a " LAW" American corporations can't win for losing, with judges like this, when the corp. is only trying to protect the public from a potential DRUNK DRIVER in an 80,000 pound vehicle traveling 65 mph on a highway filled with innocent people!
    I hope that my family isn't unwillingly forced to be on a road with this driver. You can try to justify it all you want. But how many times have alcoholics had relapses. I am 53, and I've been driving trucks for 32 years. I've known a few alcoholics, and not many of them, none that I've ever known, ever TRULY are permanently recoverd from this disease. In fact AA will tell you that there is NO cure for alcoholism, and once an alcoholic you will always be a RECOVERING alcoholic. I wish him the best, but being in a semi on the highway with innocent people isn't where he should be! And if you think so then maybe you or your family should be right in front of him next time he takes a load out. There is no way to monitor whether or not this guy is drinking once he leaves the terminal to go on a run, so why should a company be forced by ANYONE even a judge, to take the risk that he will be drunk driving their equipment? I THANK YOU Old Dominion, for the no tolerance policy for drunk drivers!!
    And as far as the Old Dominion employee from Illinois who is " forced" to work 12 hour days, your not forced to do anything! You can get another job. But be warned, there are no companies in trucking that aren't going to work you all the LEGAL hours possible. And if they don't, then their only going to allow you 40 hours and NO overtime.( which means they aren't profitable) And not many that will pay you what your getting at OD. I have always wanted to work all the hours or miles I can to make more money. And I can't imagine Old Dominion is working you illegally they just don't do that. So maybe you can get a job flipping burgers with the other kids at mc'ds good luck paying your way in the world with that paycheck, WAKE UP people!!!!

  12. 12. OD4LIFE [ April 12, 2014 @ 01:15PM ]

    I have been a faithful employee for OD for the past 8 years. I was hired P/T while working F/T at another corp. Worked that way for 1 - ONE - year and was hired F/T. After a year, OD paid for my training and I have been driving ever since. Let me say this - There is no better company out there.

    As a father and a grandfather, I am HAPPY they will not let him drive again, for the sake of the lives and safety of the other drivers on the road. Priors or no, it could be your loved one next. Secondly, OD DID NOT FIRE HIM! He could retain his job as a dock worker. Therefore, it is HIS fault for the loss in wages.

    As for the 12+ hours... guess what? IT'S THE TRUCKING INDUSTRY! You knew the game when you got involved. Simple solution is what was responded above. Find another job. Either that or drop to P/T. Your choice.

 

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