CRST Settles “Discrimination” Lawsuit Alleging Company Didn’t Hire Driver With Service Dog
CRST to pay $47,500 to military veteran to settle “discrimination and retaliation” lawsuit filed by the EEOC
Cedar Rapids, Iowa – The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced on Wednesday that it had reached a settlement with Cedar Rapids-based trucking company, CRST, in a suit alleging the trucking giant violated the law when it did not extend an offer of employment to a qualified driver recruit.
In a released statement the EEOC said CRST Expedited, Inc. / CRST International, Inc. will pay $47,500 and furnish other relief to former U.S. military veteran Leon Laferriere to settle a disability discrimination and retaliation lawsuit.
In the lawsuit, the EEOC charged that CRST violated federal law when it failed to accommodate, refused to hire and then retaliated against Laferriere, a Navy veteran, because he used a service dog to assist with his disabilities.
EEOC’s suit claimed the veteran disclosed his disabilities and use of a service dog to help with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) during the CRST application process. The agency said the applicant successfully completed the required commercial drivers’ licensing course with CRST’s partner training company yet was denied hire due to CRST’s “no pet” policy.
The EEOC contended that such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as amended by the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA). The agency said the ADA requires employers to make reasonable accommodations to employees’ disabilities so long as this does not pose an undue hardship.
The settlement also includes a consent decree which enjoins CRST from refusing to hire or provide reasonable accommodations to qualified applicants and employees with disabilities in the future, and from retaliating against any applicant or employee for seeking a reasonable accommodation.
The decree also requires CRST Expedited, Inc. and CRST International, Inc. to provide anti-discrimination training to their employees.
“During the application process, the applicant informed the CRST recruiter that he used a service dog due to his disabilities,” said Rosemary Fox, area director for the EEOC’s Milwaukee Area Office, which investigated the discrimination charge. “This gave the employer clear notice that the applicant was invoking the rights and protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act. No magic words are required to trigger an employer’s obligations under the ADA.”
Jean Kamp, associate regional attorney for the Chicago District, added, “CRST’s refusal to hire and accommodate this applicant is an example of the hardships that returning veterans with disabilities can face as they seek to reintegrate into civilian life. Those challenges are hard enough without an employer denying a veteran a job simply because he needs a service dog. Employers must not retaliate against employees or applicants for requesting accommodations.”
So far, CRST has not commented on the settlement.