Federal Court of Appeals Rules on Trucking Company and ADA

Kevin Anderson Judgments, Regulations, Transportation

The Americans with Disabilities Act was designed, passed, and implemented to prevent illegal discrimination against people with disabilities. One of the areas in which the law seeks to prevent discrimination is where an employer chooses not to hire someone because of some disability that the person has. Under the terms of the law, an employer is required to make reasonable accommodations to ensure that someone who is disabled is not also kept from gainful employment.

This law has its limits, however. The trucking industry is one where trucking companies are unable to hire people with certain disabilities that would prevent them from safely driving. One example is blindness; it would not work to hire a blind truck driver because it would create a safety hazard, and the driver would not be able to do the job. But with other diseases and disabilities the trucking industry is held to the same standard as other industries.

Trucking Company Refuses Hire of Narcoleptic Driver

Narcolepsy is one of those conditions that one may think disqualifies a person from driving a truck professionally – but that is not the case. In a recent court opinion the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the dismissal of a complaint based on the ADA against a company who refused to hire a narcoleptic driver.

In that case, the driver had been driving big-rigs for decades. He responded to an offer of employment from a major transportation company, quit his then-current job, and went to the company’s headquarters for an interview. During the application process the man revealed his condition, but brought a doctor’s note showing the medication he took, a type of amphetamine. He took a drug test, which showed amphetamine, and was subsequently told he would have to take a different type of drug to be hired.

The man did not complain or argue, and began taking a different drug so he could be hired by the company. Several weeks later, however, he was contacted by the company telling him that because of his positive drug test he would not be given employment. As a result, the man sued because he felt he was being discriminated against on the basis of his diagnosed, treated condition of narcolepsy.

At the trial court level, the man’s complaint was dismissed. There the court decided that he should have exhausted his appeals with the FMCSA before taking his case to court, but the appeals court disagreed. According to their opinion, this was a simple case of discrimination based on not being hired because of a medical condition. Now the company that failed to hire him faces a steep climb of legal fees, litigation, and possible judgement.

Regulatory Compliance Essential to Trucking Operations

This case is another example where regulatory compliance and understanding federal law is key to the well being of a company. As your trucking company continues to grow and develop, it will need a legal partner that can help it move forward into compliance with state, local, and federal law. At Anderson and Yamada, P.C., our team has decades of experience helping companies like yours at every state of growth, and through the tough times of litigation. Contact us so we can begin helping your company on its path to success.