The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed a lawsuit against CRST Expedited for allegedly failing to accommodate a veteran with a service dog and then retaliating against the man.
According to the EEOC lawsuit, Leon Laferriere applied to be a truck driver with CRST in Fort Meyers, Florida, and signed up for the driver’s certification course with CRST’s partner training company. After being accepted in the program but before leaving for it, Laferriere disclosed his disabilities and use of a trained service dog to help him control anxiety and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
After completing the training program, Laferriere was told he could not advance on to the on-the-road program, which requires overnights away from home, allegedly due to CRST’s no-pet policy. As a result, he was not hired by the company.
Shortly after Laferriere’s disqualification from hire, the EEOC alleges that CRST developed a new Service Dog Process to address accommodation requests for the use of a service dog. Despite this, the lawsuit claims that Laferriere was denied the opportunity to qualify for hire under the new policy.
"Laferriere did the right thing by disclosing that he used a service dog due to disabilities to the CRST recruiter before leaving for the driver's certification course," said Julianne Bowman, district director for the EEOC's Chicago district office, which investigated the charge of discrimination.
The EEOC says that this incident violates the Americans with Disabilities Act for failing to provide a reasonable accommodation for disability, failing to hire an applicant due to a disability, and retaliating against an applicant for seeking a reasonable accommodation, as well as interfering with an applicant’s rights under the act.
"CRST's refusal to accommodate Mr. Laferriere is an example of the hardships that returning veterans with disabilities can face as they seek to reintegrate into civilian life,” said Jean Kamp, associate regional attorney for the Chicago district. “Those challenges are hard enough without an employer denying someone a job simply because he needs a service dog, as so many do."
CRST has yet to comment on the lawsuit. The company was named a Top 100 Military Friendly Employer in 2016 and was approved for the Veteran Apprenticeship Program, offered through the Department of Labor and the Veteran’s Administration. The program allowed new and current CRST drivers to earn additional income from the GI Bill while training to become a truck driver for the company.