Cement Driver Fired Driver Because of Neck Impairment, Federal Agency Charged
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – A Rio Rancho, N.M., cement plant will pay $80,000 and furnish other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
In its lawsuit (EEOC v. Roadrunner Redi-Mix Inc., CIV No. 1:11-00873 JCH/WPL), the EEOC alleged Roadrunner Redi-Mix violated federal law by subjecting Eliud Tafoya, a cement driver with a neck impairment, to disability discrimination, by failing to provide him with a reasonable accommodation. Specifically, Tafoya requested to be exempt from cleaning the inside of the concrete barrel of his truck once a year, or in the alternative, to use the jackhammer, which was used to remove the excess concrete, in a downward motion, as opposed to the typical upward, overhead motion.
The EEOC complaint said that Tafoya safely performed his job duties for two and a half years of employment, and it wasn’t until he requested that reasonable accommodation that he was immediately sent home on unpaid leave and eventually terminated.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
As part of the two-and-one-half-year consent decree settling the suit, signed by Judge Judith Herrera, Roadrunner agreed to pay Tafoya $80,000 in monetary relief. The decree also enjoins Roadrunner Redi-Mix from engaging in further disability discrimination and requires the company to implement discrimination policies and procedures, provide training to its managers and employees, and monitor and investigate discrimination complaints.
“The EEOC will continue to diligently enforce federal law to ensure that people with disabilities are free from harassment or discrimination in the workplace,” said Mary Jo O’Neill, the EEOC’s regional attorney for its Phoenix District Office.
Christina Vigil, the EEOC trial attorney who handled the case, said, “We are pleased with the relief provided by the consent decree, which provides satisfactory relief for Mr. Tafoya and significant protections for the employees of Roadrunner Redi-Mix.”
Deputy District Director Elizabeth Cadle of the EEOC’s Phoenix District added, “This lawsuit was filed under the new Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA), which emphasizes affording broad coverage to individuals with a disability. Employers must remain cognizant of the new changes to federal law.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.