Celadon Trucking Services has agreed in a consent decree to pay $200,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The suit alleged that Celadon was in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act for subjecting certain applicants to medical examinations before making a conditional offer of employment and discriminating against applicants based on disability or perceived disability.
A judge in the case ruled that Celadon violated the ADA by conducting unlawful medical inquiries and examinations of applicants for over-the-road truck driving positions. The court determined that there was enough evidence to support the finding that two of the class members were qualified to drive trucks but Celadon dismissed them from its driver orientation program because of their disabilities.
In addition to paying $200,000 in damages to the 23 former Celadon applicants involved in the lawsuit, Celadon must train its management employees on disability discrimination and post a notice of non-discrimination at its work site. It must also submit annual reports detailing its compliance with the decree and provide other non-monetary relief by inviting qualified class members to attend the company’s driver orientation program. The consent decree will last for five years.
While the ADA does outlaw discrimination when hiring applicants with disabilities, exams that measure fitness for duty after a conditional employment offer do not violate it. A driver must be able to perform the essential functions of their job and dismissal because of a failure to do so would not be a violation of the rule. Also a worker’s disability must not pose a direct threat to the safety and health of the worker or the people around them.
"The law is clear: Celadon cannot subject applicant drivers to disability-related inquiries and medical examinations without first extending to these applicants a conditional job offer," said Laurie A. Young, regional attorney of the Indianapolis District Office. "Celadon's policies must conform to the requirements of the ADA.”