The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is suing an Omaha-based trucking company for refusing to hire a driver from Texas because he is deaf.
The lawsuit says Werner Enterprises declined to hire Andrew Deuschle multiple times, The Lincoln Journal Star reported . The 48-year-old was born deaf but received an exemption from the federal hearing requirement for commercial motor vehicle drivers.
Deuschle applied for a positions at the company in 2014 and 2015, but was denied after disclosing he was deaf, the lawsuit said. The company's employment practices were unlawful and "were done with malice or reckless indifference" to Deuschle's rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the lawsuit said.
Joseph Jones, an attorney for Werner said the company wasn't discriminatory and based its decision on a legitimate occupational qualification. Deuschle was a health and safety threat, and wouldn't be able to perform the duties of a driver in a safe and efficient manner, Jones said.
"Allowing him to operate a commercial motor vehicle creates a significant risk to the health and safety of others that cannot be eliminated by reasonable accommodations," Jones said.
Werner is seeking dismissal of the lawsuit.
People who are deaf shouldn't have to face such challenges when looking for employment, said Andrea Baran, regional attorney for the commission's St. Louis district.
"Deaf people can drive over-the-road trucks as well as anyone," she said.
The lawsuit ask that the court declare Werner's employment practices in violation of the ADA and require the company to cease inquiring about disabilities during the application process. The lawsuit also seeks back-pay, job search expenses and punitive damages for Deuschle.