Central Refrigerated Service settles EEOC sex and age discrimination case

By Land Line staff | Monday, September 28, 2015

Central Refrigerated Service and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced an agreement to settle a sex and age discrimination charge.

The settlement was mutually agreed to by both parties, and occurred prior to litigation being filed. The settlement was announced via press release on Sept. 24.

At issue were claims that applicants for truck driver positions at Central Refrigerated Service's Fontana, Calif., facility who were female or over 40 years of age were allegedly adversely affected by a mandatory policy requiring them to take strength exams, which EEOC said were not indicative of the strength level required for the positions, the release stated.

The exams were administered by WorkWell, Inc., a third-party vendor no longer used by the company. The EEOC charge alleged that the company's practice discriminated against women and older applicants who were ultimately not hired as a result of not passing the exam.

EEOC and Central Refrigerated Service reached a three-year negotiated settlement agreement, although Central has made clear that it does not admit liability. Rather, it settled the matter because the WorkWell process had long ago been discarded by the company. Central agreed to an injunction precluding the use of WorkWell strength exams as a condition of employment. The company also agreed to maintain its anti-discrimination policies and posts to an employee-accessible intranet platform for all current Central employees. The parties further agreed to the distribution of a public press release on the matter. A representative from the EEOC’s district office in Los Angeles said the agency was unable to comment beyond the press release.

“Physical agility tests for positions that do not require the same level of physical ability can run afoul of federal law,” Rosa M. Viramontes, district director of EEOC's Los Angeles District Office said in the press release. “We commend Central Refrigerated Service for shifting Central's policies to ensure that job applicants have equal access to employment going forward.”

Upon acquisition by Swift Transportation in 2013, Central Refrigerated Service adopted Swift Transportation’s hiring policies, which do not require any strength or lifting exams.

“Central Refrigerated Service is committed to equal opportunity employment and non-discrimination in employment. We are pleased to work with EEOC to resolve this matter,” Mark Wilkey, Central’s general counsel, said in the release.

EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.  Further information about EEOC is available on its website.

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