Deaf Nebraska Trucker to Receive $335K in Disability Discrimination Case
Trucking companies Werner Enterprises, Inc. and Drivers Management, LLC must pay $335,682 to a deaf truck driver months after an Omaha, Nebraska jury found in favor of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on disability discrimination claims, a federal judge ruled in January. The court also ordered the companies to submit semi-annual reports to the EEOC for the next three years with information about deaf truck driver applicants and new hires.
The judgment follows a jury verdict awarding $36 million in punitive damages and $75,000 in compensatory damages for truck driver Victor Robinson. The EEOC had sued Werner in U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska (EEOC v. Drivers Management, LLC and Werner Enterprises, Inc., Case No. 8:18-cv-00462) under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) after the truckload carrier refused to hire Robinson, a licensed, qualified truck driver, in 2016. The EEOC filed its suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
The case went to trial last year, and on Sept. 1, 2023, an eight-person jury found Werner violated the ADA when it failed to hire Robinson because he is Deaf and failed to provide him reasonable accommodation for his disability.
In a judgment entered Jan. 11, Senior Judge John M. Gerrard also found that Werner intentionally discriminated against Robinson in violation of the ADA. The judgment reduced the jury’s verdict to $300,000, as required by federal law limiting damages in employment discrimination cases. The judge also awarded Robinson $35,682 in lost wages. Werner will also be required to pay pre-judgment interest on the wages.
According to its website, Werner maintains offices in the United States, Canada, Mexico, China and Australia and is among the five largest truckload carriers in the United States. Its wholly owned subsidiary company, Drivers Management, employs, trains, and manages drivers.