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Werner Enterprises Sued by EEOC For Disability Discrimination in Hiring

ST. LOUIS – Werner Enterprises, Inc., a truckload carrier headquartered in Omaha, Neb., violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when it refused to hire an applicant as a truck driver because he is deaf, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charged in a lawsuit filed today.

According to EEOC’s suit, Werner told Andrew Deuschle that it could not hire deaf persons as truck drivers and, therefore, refused to hire him, despite the fact that he had graduated from truck driving school, received his commercial driver license, and obtained from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) an exemption from the hearing regulation for the operation of a commercial motor vehicle.

In addition to these claims, EEOC asserts that Werner unlawfully made disability-related inquiries in its employment application.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska (EEOC v. Werner Enterprises, Inc., Case No. 8:18-cv-00329) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The agency seeks back pay as well as compensatory and punitive damages for Deuschle in addition to injunctive relief designed to prevent and address future discrimination based on disability and to otherwise bring the company into compliance with federal law.

“People who are deaf face many challenges, but finding and holding a good job should not be one of them,” said Andrea G. Baran, regional attorney for EEOC’s St. Louis District. “Employers must learn that negative stereotypes about people who are deaf are unfounded. The EEOC will hold accountable those employers who have not learned that deaf people can drive over-the-road trucks as well as anyone.”

James R. Neely, Jr., director of the EEOC’s St. Louis District Office, added “Using stereotypes about disabilities to screen out applicants for high-paying trucking jobs cannot be tolerated. Just because someone is deaf doesn’t mean he or she cannot safely drive a truck. That is why the FMCSA grants hearing exemptions, just as it did here for Mr. Deuschle.”