Werner Enterprises Ordered to Pay $335,000 to Deaf Truck Driver in Landmark Discrimination Lawsuit

LINCOLN, Nebraska – Omaha-based trucking company Werner Enterprises has been ordered by a federal judge to pay $300,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by a deaf driver. The judge also awarded the driver $35,682 in lost wages. The lawsuit, brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of driver Victor Robinson, alleged that Werner had violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by refusing to hire Robinson and failing to provide reasonable accommodation for his disability.

Robinson, who obtained a “hearing exemption” from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and graduated from a truck driving school owned by Werner, had applied for a job with the company in 2016. However, he was rejected despite meeting the necessary qualifications.

In September, a jury of eight found Werner guilty of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. The jury awarded Robinson $36 million in punitive damages and $75,000 in compensatory damages. However, federal law limits monetary damages in employment discrimination cases to $300,000. As a result, U.S. District Judge John Gerrard reduced the damages to that amount and also granted Robinson compensation for his lost wages.

During the legal proceedings, Werner argued that it could not reasonably accommodate Robinson’s disability, claiming that it would hinder his ability to perform the essential functions of the job. Werner had no further comments regarding the judge’s decision.

The company had previously stated that it was considering an appeal. Jill Samuelson, Werner’s associate vice president for marketing and communications, emphasized that the company prioritizes the safety and well-being of its employees.

The ruling against Werner Enterprises highlights the importance of providing equal employment opportunities and reasonable accommodation for individuals with disabilities. It serves as a reminder to employers to ensure compliance with anti-discrimination laws and to consider all potential accommodations for disabled applicants.

This case also sheds light on the challenges faced by individuals with disabilities in finding employment and emphasizes the need for companies to create inclusive work environments. Providing equal opportunities and reasonable accommodations not only benefits disabled individuals but also contributes to a diverse and inclusive workforce.

The settlement between Victor Robinson and Werner Enterprises not only compensates the victim for their mistreatment but also sends a powerful message to other employers about the consequences of disability discrimination. The ruling serves as a step towards a more inclusive and equal society, promoting awareness and accountability.