EEOC charges Celadon violated disability act

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed charges against Celadon Inc. alleging it unlawfully subjected driver applicants to medical screenings and rejected them because of disabilities or perceived disabilities.

On Feb. 29, the commission filed a complaint in Indianapolis’ federal district court stating the truckload carrier performed medical examinations on applicants before making conditional employment offers. The company’s exams were inconsistent with U.S.  Department of Transportation standards, but still used to disqualify applicants Celadon considered disabled.

A spokesman for the Indianapolis-based carrier did not respond to a request for comment.

The American with Disabilities Act bars discrimination based on a disability or a perceived disability, as well as prohibits employers from subjecting applicants to medical examinations before making a conditional employment offer, according to Laurie Young, an Indianapolis EEOC attorney.

The medical screenings included vision, hearing, blood, urine, blood pressure and requests for applicants’ list of prescriptions and medical histories.

The lawsuit names 17 applicants and includes applicants hurt by the carrier’s practices, which the commission states date back more than three years.

The commission seeks compensatory and punitive damages and an injunction to prevent Celadon from future non-compliant ADA practices. The EEOC attempted to settle with the 3,300-truck carrier before going to court.

The EEOC complaint did not mention sleep apnea among alleged disabilities.

According to a $3.25 million settlement announced Dec. 15, the carrier will educate drivers regarding sleep apnea. The agreement stipulated Celadon use a national sleep expert to examine company policy regarding the condition and inform applicants that receiving treatment for sleep apnea does not prevent them from truck driving.

John Lindsey’s widow received the settlement after a Celadon driver with severe uncontrolled sleep apnea rear-ended her husband’s car at 65 mph May 2010. Lindsey was in a three-mile line of vehicles stopped in a construction zone. The truck driver had been fired from his last job for refusing a sleep study and 30 other companies rejected him before he was hired by Celadon, according to the plaintiffs.