Distribution and Delivery Company Refused to Hire Truck Driver with a Perceived Disability, Federal Agency Charges

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Ashley Distribution Services, Ltd., a Wisconsin corporation doing business in Advance, North Carolina, violated federal law when it refused to hire a truck driver because the company regarded him as disabled, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.

According to the EEOC’s complaint, Farrell Welch applied for a position as a yard driver at the Ashley Distribution Services, Ltd. facility in Advance, North Carolina around July 30, 2016. The EEOC alleges 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. Although Welch already had a valid DOT medical certification at the time of his application, he successfully completed a second DOT medical exam at Ashley Distribution’s request and successfully completed the company’s driving test. 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, and the company required Welch to undergo a fit-for-duty exam. The EEOC said that Ashley Distribution did not hire Welch even though he was capable of performing the yard driver job.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which protects employees from discrimination based on their disabilities, including perceived disabilities. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina, (EEOC 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. The EEOC seeks back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief.

“An employer cannot refuse to hire an applicant based on fears or other assumptions about the applicant’s ability to safely perform the duties of the job, simply because the employer presumes an applicant has a disability,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for EEOC’s Charlotte District. “The EEOC will continue to litigate cases where disabled persons, including those who are regarded as being disabled, are denied jobs for which they are qualified.”

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.