Carmaker Volvo to pay $70,000 over work discrimination against disabled laborer

January 23, 2018

Volvo  Group North America will pay $70,000 and provide other relief to settle a disability discrimination suit, said the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in a statement January 19. Last year the EEOC filed a suit against Volvo over the case of an applicant laborer whom the carmaker accepted but did not allow to start on the job because he was taking certain prescribed drugs.

The EEOC said Volvo offered the laborer applicant the job. But he was a recovering drug addict under a supervised medication-assisted treatment program. During his physical examination with Volvo the laborer said he was taking prescribed suboxone. At the time, Volvo failed to assess the likely effect, if any, of the said drug on the laborer’s performance on the job. When later the laborer reported to work on his first day, Volvo reportedly told him he would not be hired after all due to his suboxone use.

Such action by Volvo violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the EEOC said. ADA prohibits discrimination based on disability. “Employers should make hiring decisions based on the qualifications of an applicant, not his disability or participation in a medically supervised treatment program,” said EEOC Philadelphia District Office Director Jamie R. Williamson.

The federal agency tried to arrive at a settlement with the carmaker through the conciliation process before it filed the lawsuit, which is recorded as EEOC v. Volvo Group North America, LLC, Civil Action No. 1:17-cv-02889) in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Northern Division.

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On top of paying $70,000, the Volvo Group North America, LLC, is cautioned against further violations of the ADA. The carmaker is expected to amend its policy on post-offer medical and drug evaluations to explain how it will assess whether an employee’s or applicant’s lawful use of prescription medication poses a direct threat as defined by the ADA, including providing a reasonable accommodation as required by the ADA. Volvo will also provide ADA training, including on how the law relates to drug screening and the use of lawfully prescribed medications. The EEOC said Volvo will report to them on how it handles any complaints of disability discrimination and post a notice regarding the settlement.

The Volvo Group employs more than 14,000 people in North America, the source of some 27 percent of its sales. It has nine manufacturing facilities in six U.S. states, as well as three plants in Canada and one in Mexico. The EEOC praised the group for cooperating with the agency in resolving this case of discrimination on the job.

Discrimination cases are often time sensitive. Many employees may face a situation at work that they are unsure if it is illegal and what their options and remedies are. Laws protect employees from experiencing discrimination and harassment because of race, gender, ethnicity,  religion, sexual orientation,  disability and  pregnancy.  If you are facing an issue involving possible employment discrimination, you can call (877) 561-0000 for a free confidential consultation.