Fort Smith Jury Awards Thousands To Trucker Fired After Self-Reporting Alcohol Abuse
FORT SMITH (KFSM) – A Fort Smith jury awarded a former truck driver $119,612 after the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a lawsuit stating the worker was not properly accommodated after he self-reported alcohol abuse, according to a news release.
The former truck driver worked for Old Dominion Freight Line headquartered in North Carolina (the company also has a location in Fort Smith), the release states. When he self-reported an alcohol problem under the company’s “open door policy” seeking assistance from Old Dominion Freight Line, the company said it wouldn’t return him to a driving position, officials said.
Old Dominion Freight Line said it offered the former driver a part-time dock position at half the pay and no health benefits. The company later said he abandoned his job, and the former driver was fired in June 2009, according to the release.
The lawsuit stated that the trucking company violated a federal disability discrimination law when it didn’t accommodate the former trucker. The jury agreed, the release states.
“The EEOC has always maintained that Old Dominion had a right to ensure that its drivers comply with DOT Regulations so as not to endanger the public,” said General Counsel David Lopez.
He continued, “At the same time, the ADA requires that Old Dominion make an individualized determination as to whether the driver could return to driving and provide a reasonable accommodation of leave to its drivers for them to obtain treatment. To maintain a blanket policy that any driver who self-reports alcohol abuse could never return to driving — with no individualized assessment to determine if the driver could safely be returned to driving — violates the ADA.”
According to its website, Old Dominion Freight Line employs more than 15,000 people globally with service centers throughout the United States.