Trucking Company Sued over Back Assessment Reportedly Used to Reject those Regarded as Disabled

May 07, 2018

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed suit alleging that national trucking company Hirschbach Motor Lines, Inc, violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by using a pre-employment "back assessment" to screen out and reject job applicants it regarded as disabled for truck-driving positions. The EEOC also contends that Hirschbach maintains a policy prohibiting its over-the-road truck drivers who have an injury or impairment from working until they are entirely free of restrictions and limitations.

Among other things, the "back assessment" tested an applicant's ability to balance and stand on one leg, and touch their toes while standing on one leg. Hirschbach purportedly used the assessment to identify and screen out job candidates with pre-existing injuries and/or medical conditions who had received conditional offers of employment, even though the applicants had already obtained their Department of Transportation medical certifications authorizing them to drive a truck.

The EEOC is seeking back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, and injunctive relief.

"Federal law prohibits employers from using standards or tests that tend to screen out the disabled or those applicants the employer regards as disabled," EEOC Regional Attorney Jeffrey Burstein said in a release. "Hirschbach's back assessment was unnecessary to assess the ability of the applicants to perform the job and was an unlawful standard."

"Employers cannot refuse to offer a reasonable accommodation required by law unless it causes an undue hardship," added EEOC District Director Kevin Berry. "Hirschbach's ‘100% free of restrictions’ policy violated this requirement."