Delivery Company Refused to Hire Truck Driver With a Perceived Disability Federal Agency Charged

Winston-SALEM, N.C. – Ashley Distribution Services, Ltd.., a Wisconsin corporation doing business in Advance, N.C., will pay $75,000 and provide other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today. The EEOC had charged that Ashley Distribution refused to hire a qualified individual because it perceived him as having a disability.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Farrell Welch applied for a position as a yard driver at the Ashley Distribution’s Advance facility around July 2016. Ashley Distribution offered Welch the position on the condition that he obtain a Department of Transportation (DOT) medical certification, meet the physical requirements for the job, and show that he could perform the required job duties. Welch successfully completed a DOT medical exam and successfully completed the company’s driving test. However, the company was concerned that Welch could not safely enter and exit a truck due to a rotator cuff injury Welch disclosed during his DOT medical exam. Despite Welch’s being capable of performing the yard driver job, the company refused to hire him because of its misperception of his condition, the EEOC said.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which protects employees from unlawful employment practices on the basis of a disability or a perceived one. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Ashley Distribution Services, LTD.; Civil Action No 1:18-cv-00338) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to the $75,000 in damages, the two-year consent decree settling the suit requires that Ashley Distribution adopt and distribute a written anti-discrimination policy which explains the ADA and provides a procedure for conducting an individualized assessment of any actual or perceived safety risk before rescinding a job offer. The company must also provide annual training to its human resources employees, managers and supervisors who are responsible for recommending or making decisions to hire and/or fire employees. Ashley Distribution will also be subject to the EEOC for reporting and monitoring requirements during the decree’s term.

“Employers must not refuse to hire an applicant based on fears or other assumptions about the applicant’s ability to safely perform the duties of a job, simply because they presume a worker has a disability,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for EEOC’s Charlotte District. “This resolution demonstrates the need for companies to individually assess each employee’s actual or perceived disabilities before withdrawing a job offer.”

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.