The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently filed a lawsuit against CRST International, alleging that the trucking company refused to hire a military veteran because of his request to drive with a service dog.
According to the complaint filed March 2 in a Florida federal court, CRST rescinded its offer to hire Leon Laferriere in June 2015 after he made several requests to let him break the company’s “no pet” policy and let him use a service dog as an accommodation for his post-traumatic stress disorder and mood disorder.
“CRST’s refusal to accommodate Mr. Laferriere is an example of the hardships that returning veterans with disabilities can face as they seek to reintegrate into civilian life,” Jean Kamp, an associate regional attorney for the EEOC’s Chicago district, said in a news release. “Those challenges are hard enough without an employer denying someone a job simply because he needs a service dog, as so many do.”
The EEOC said Laferriere’s psychiatrist prescribed him an emotional support/service animal to assist him in coping with his disabilities and to maintain appropriate social interactions and workplace functions.
However, Laferriere claims a CRST manager and recruiter pressured him to leave his dog at home and refused to provide the accommodation for his disabilities. In June 2015, CRST told Laferriere that he could not drive with his service dog because of company policies, the lawsuit alleged. Soon after, Laferriere said he repeated his request and told CRST he believed the denial violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“On or around June 15, 2015, CRST retaliated against Laferriere by rescinding its offer of employment, sending Laferriere home to Fort Myers from the driving school in Jacksonville instead of moving him forward to new driver orientation,” according to the complaint. “CRST also retaliated against Laferriere in June 2015 by failing to provide Laferriere with the opportunity to participate in an interactive process to determine if his request to drive with his service dog was a reasonable accommodation.”
The lawsuit asks the court to order CRST to offer Laferriere employment as a truck driver, as well as provide him back pay and other compensation, including damages for emotional pain and suffering.