Celadon Trucking Services will pay $200,000 to settle a federal lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, one month after a federal court struck down most of its application policy.
For a period of time, starting 2008, the Indianapolis-based company required prospective employees to answer a three-question health questionnaire. While the second and third question asked specifically whether applicants have a history of sleep apnea or heart conditions, the first question asked, more broadly, for the applicant to disclose all their current and prior health conditions and medications.
The EEOC, in a lawsuit filed in March 2012, argued the policy violated with the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits pre-offer medical inquiries. The exceptions to the rule are that the employers may inquire into applicants’ ability to perform job-related functions or condition job offers on an employee’s passage of an medical examination, if it is consistent with business necessity.
Celadon argued the questionnaire fell under the job-related exception, on the basis that it was necessary to determine if the applicants could meet Department of Transportation certification requirements.
The U.S. District Court for the Southern District, in a decision issued June 30, accepted this argument for the sleep apnea and heart conditions questions, but rejected the first question as overly broad and in violation of the ADA. It also rejected Celadon’s argument that the DOT certification program mandated such inquiries.
“The law is clear: Celadon cannot subject applicant drivers to disability-related inquiries and medical examinations without first extending to these applicants a conditional job offer,” said Laurie A. Young, regional attorney of the Indianapolis District Office, in a news release. “Celadon’s policies must conform to the requirements of the ADA. We are satisfied that this settlement serves the public interest and we are confident that the relief obtained will prevent the recurrence of this type of discrimination.”
Under the consent decree, the company must pay monetary damages amounting to $200,000 to 23 former Celadon applicants, as well as invite those who are qualified for the job requirements to its driver orientation program.
It must also provide disability discrimination training to company employees, post a notice of its non-discrimination policy at its worksites and submit annual compliance reports to the EEOC. The consent decree will remain in effect for five years, provided Celadon complies with the terms of the agreement.