Transportation giant ordered to pay $95K in disability lawsuit

Company allegedly rejected applicant due to prior back injury

Posted March 23, 2016

A Washington federal court ordered a Texas-based freight transportation company to pay $95,000 to a qualified applicant denied hire because of an old back injury and also awarded permanent injunctive relief, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced.

The judgment follows an earlier win by EEOC when the court found the company liable for disability discrimination without the need for a trial.

According to the court's prior order, the company violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when it simply stopped its hiring process after the applicant disclosed his prior back injury.

According to EEOC's lawsuit, the applicant, an experienced patrol deputy and criminal investigator, received a conditional job offer for a senior patrol officer position with the company in Seattle in 2011. As part of a post-offer medical process, he disclosed a back injury sustained in 2007 and a related MRI test, and at the company’s request he had a physical examination, which showed no abnormalities or restrictions.

After receiving this information, the company’s medical officer in Texas required the applicant to provide a current MRI at his expense, an out-of-pocket cost of approximately $2,000, since his doctor would not approve an insurance-reimbursable test because he was not experiencing any pain. The applicant asked the company to waive the MRI requirement. The company refused, and when he failed to provide the MRI, the company allegedly treated the applicant as having declined the job, although he had not, EEOC said.

The court's judgment includes $62,500 in compensatory damages for the applicant’s emotional distress along with just under $33,000 in back pay and interest.

The court also imposed a permanent injunction requiring the railway company to bear the cost of any additional medical information it seeks from an applicant and to complete the medical examination process with existing information if no further information is sought. By prior order, the judgment is stayed pending potential appeals.


 

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