Lawsuit against CRST sidetracked by venue squabble

By Mark Schremmer, Land Line staff writer | Friday, June 16, 2017

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and CRST Expedited continue to debate where the proper venue is for a lawsuit that claims the trucking company refused to hire a military veteran because of his request to drive with a service dog.

In a motion to dismiss filed Thursday, June 15, in a Florida federal court, CRST maintained its stance that Florida is the improper venue. If the case is to continue, CRST asked that it be moved to the Northern District of Iowa, where the company is headquartered.

The EEOC is defending military veteran Leon Laferriere, who claims that CRST rescinded its job offer to him in June 2015 after he made requests to travel with his service dog. Laferriere was prescribed a service dog by his Veteran Affairs facility to assist with his post-traumatic stress disorder and mood disorder. The lawsuit alleges that CRST violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by rescinding its offer to hire Laferriere.

CRST said that even though Laferriere attended a driving school in Florida, the allegations of unlawful employment practice would have occurred in Iowa.

“The application was received and reviewed by Expedited’s recruiter, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa,” CRST wrote. “All communications with Mr. Laferriere originated from Expedited’s office in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. All decisions made by Expedited with respect to Mr. Laferriere were made in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.”

However, the EEOC says the discrimination against Laferriere occurred in Florida.

“On or around June 10-12, 2015, Defendants told Laferriere that he could not drive with his service dog due to company policies,” EEOC wrote in its amended complaint on May 17. “On or about June 12, 2015, Laferriere repeated his request for an accommodation and informed Defendants of his belief that the company’s ‘no pet’ policy and Defendants’ refusal to allow him to drive with his service dog violated the ADA. On or around June 15, 2015, Defendants 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.”

EEOC Attorney Leslie Carter previously told Land Line that Laferriere went on to obtain his commercial driver’s license and that he works for another trucking company.

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