Trucking Company Improperly Screened Out Applicants On The Basis of Disability Federal Agency Charges
DENVER - Trucking firm JBS Carriers, based in Greeley, Colo., violated federal law by using pre-employment screening procedures that improperly screen out truck driving job applicants on the basis of disability, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed on Friday, Sept 28 the agency announced today.
EEOC's lawsuit alleges that JBS Carriers contracts with a third-party, ErgoMed Work Systems, Inc., to administer pre-employment screening of applicants for truck driving jobs, which process, as administered and used, unlawfully screened out individuals with disabilities who were qualified for the truck driving jobs they sought. Cindy Divine applied to JBS Carriers to work as a truck driver. JBS Carriers required her to travel from her home in Lake Elsinore, Calif. to Greeley to complete the ErgoMed screening. But, after making the trip, ErgoMed concluded that Divine had issues with her shoulders. Although Ms. Divine told ErgoMed she did not have shoulder problems and was merely sore from carrying heavy luggage from the bus stop to her motel, ErgoMed prevented her from completing the physical abilities testing that was required by JBS Carriers. ErgoMed recommended that JBS Carriers should not hire Ms. Divine, and JBS Carriers accepted that recommendation. In its suit, (EEOC v. JBS Carriers, Civil Action No. 1:18-cv-02498-RPM), the EEOC alleges that JBS Carriers unlawfully denied truck driving jobs to applicants because of their disabilities, by subjecting applicants to a medical and physical screening process which excludes applicants with disabilities.
As it did with Ms. Divine, JBS Carriers relied on and uniformly accepted ErgoMed's recommendations regarding job applicants. By requiring and relying on ErgoMed's screening without giving individual consideration to job applicants, the EEOC alleges JBS Carriers discriminated against its job applicants based on disability. The EEOC also alleges that JBS Carriers failed to provide reasonable accommodations to these applicants and discriminated against applicants who it regarded as disabled.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit, the pre-employment screening required by JBS Carriers and administered by ErgoMed violates the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1991, as amended, which prohibits employment discrimination based on disability, including the perception of a disability, and makes it illegal for employers to impose standards or criteria for job applicants that have the effect of discriminating based on disability. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement through its conciliation process.
The EEOC's lawsuit asks the court to order JBS Carriers to provide Cindy Divine and other aggrieved individuals appropriate relief, including back wages, compensatory and punitive damages, and a permanent injunction prohibiting the company from continuing to use the screening procedures provided by ErgoMed and from engaging in any further discriminatory practices based on job applicants' disabilities, including the perception of a disability. The EEOC also asks the court to order JBS Carriers to institute and carry out policies and practices that eradicate and prevent disability discrimination in the workplace.
"A job candidate should be evaluated based on his or her ability to do the job, not based on the ability to pass an arbitrary medical exam or onerous physical testing that is not related to the actual job requirements," said Regional Attorney Mary Jo O'Neill of the EEOC's Phoenix District Office. "This arrangement operates to outsource disability discrimination. The EEOC will continue to be vigilant of these types of contracting arrangements."
EEOC District Director Elizabeth Cadle said, "Employers unnecessarily restrict the pool of eligible candidates when these kinds of medical screens are used. If a candidate is qualified and able to do the job, that candidate should be given every opportunity to compete for the job."
JBS Carriers is the transportation affiliate of multinational meat processor JBS USA. JBS Carriers is based in Greeley and operates throughout the United States, with terminals in Wisconsin, Utah, Texas, and Georgia.
The EEOC advances opportunity 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.