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Trucking company Pays $40K to Resolve Dispute over Screening Assessment, 100 Percent Healed Policy

August 28, 2019

A recently settled lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) underscores the federal antidiscrimination agency’s frequently repeated messages that under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), job qualification screening tests must be job related, and 100 percent-healed policies are unlawful.

Employment screening test. National trucking company Hirschbach Motor Lines, Inc., has agreed to pay $40,000 and furnish certain equitable relief to settle allegations that the Dubuque, Iowa-headquartered company violated the ADA by using a pre-employment back assessment to screen out and reject job applicants it regarded as disabled for truck-driving positions.

According to the EEOC, the back assessment tested, among other things, an applicant’s ability to balance and stand on one leg, touch toes while standing on one leg, and crawl. Hirschbach allegedly used the back assessment to screen out job candidates with pre-existing injuries and/or unrestricted medical conditions who had received conditional offers of employment.

Not job related. Here’s where it gets really sticky. Hirschbach purportedly screened out applicants who had already received their Department of Transportation medical certifications that authorized them to drive a truck. The EEOC alleged that many of these applicants were quickly hired by other companies after they were rejected by Hirschbach. The EEOC contends that Hirschbach’s screening process violated the ADA because the back assessment was neither related to the job of driving a truck nor consistent with business necessity.

100 percent-healed policy. Hirschbach had another problem, according to the EEOC. The company prohibited over-the-road truck drivers who had an injury or impairment from working until they were 100 percent free of restrictions and limitations—another ADA violation.

ADA reminder. The EEOC reiterated in its press release about the settlement that the ADA prohibits employers from discriminating based on disability. The statute explicitly prohibits employers from using qualification standards that screen out or tend to screen out applicants regarded as disabled, unless the standard is shown to be job related for the position and consistent with business necessity.

As to the 100 percent-healed policy, the ADA also requires employers to provide employees with disabilities a reasonable accommodation, absent undue hardship to the employer.