Federal Agency Charged That Trucking Giant Refused to Hire Veteran Because He Uses a Service Dog
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - CRST Expedited, Inc. / CRST International, Inc. will pay $47,500 and furnish other relief to settle a disability discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today. Both entities are part of the CRST national trucking conglomerate and are headquartered in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
In the lawsuit, the EEOC charged that CRST violated federal law when it failed to accommodate, refused to hire and then retaliated against a truck driver applicant, a Navy veteran, because he used a service dog to assist with his disabilities. During the CRST application process, the veteran disclosed his disabilities and use of a service dog to help with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 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.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as amended by the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA). The ADA requires employers to make reasonable accommodations to employees' disabilities so long as this does not pose an undue hardship.
The EEOC filed its lawsuit, EEOC v. CRST International Inc. and CRST Expedited Inc., Case No. 1:17-cv-00129, in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through the EEOC's conciliation process.
The settlement negotiated between the EEOC and CRST requires the company to provide the applicant with back pay and compensatory damages totaling $47,500. 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."
Gregory Gochanour, regional attorney for the EEOC's Chicago District, said, "The use of a trained service dog can be a reasonable accommodation. Employers must make exceptions to company policies where such an exception would allow the company to provide a reasonable accommodation to a qualified individual with a disability."
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."
The EEOC's Milwaukee Area Office is part of the agency's Chicago District Office, which is responsible for investigating charges of employment discrimination, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota.
The EEOC advances equal opportunities in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.