In response to lawsuit by EEOC, Stevens Transport claims driver wasn't qualified

By Mark Schremmer, Land Line staff writer | Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Stevens Transport responded to a lawsuit from the U.S. Equal Employment Commission that claimed the trucking company from Dallas violated federal law when it didn’t hire a truck driver because of the medication he takes to control his bipolar disorder.

In the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, attorneys for Stevens Transport answered the EEOC’s complaint on Dec. 30, saying the company opted to not hire Brian Brown because he “was not qualified for the position of commercial truck driver.”

Stevens requested that the court dismiss all claims with prejudice and award it court costs and attorney fees.

The EEOC filed the lawsuit on Nov. 30, claiming that Stevens said it couldn’t hire Brown because the bipolar medication he used was against its company policy for truck drivers. According to the EEOC, Brown presented a report from his medical provider indicating that he was safe to drive, but the physician who was contracted with Stevens to conduct medical evaluations said Brown couldn’t be hired while on those medications.

The name of the medication at issue has not been released.

Stevens argued that its decision to not hire Brown was “based on good faith and reasonable grounds for believing its acts or omissions were in conformity with applicable law.”

In addition, Stevens said Brown failed to complete the application process and claimed that he “created a substantial risk to the motoring public and a violation of FMCSR 391.41.”

Meaghan L. Shepard, an EEOC trial attorney, previously said the drug didn’t automatically exclude a driver from consideration.

“What we contend is that the physician the company contracted with to do these exams did not do an individualized exam of Mr. Brown and failed to take into consideration a note he was attempting to provide from another physician that was familiar with his circumstances,” Shepard said. “It’s our contention that there was a broad-based exclusionary policy that was applied to Mr. Brown in violation of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act).”

Stevens said it used an independent physician who relied on the FMCSA and its guidance to conduct DOT mandated examinations.

Brown earned his medical certification and began working for a different trucking company a couple of weeks after being denied employment at Stevens, Shepard said.

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