The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reportedly has sued C.R. England, alleging the Salt Lake City-based trucking company illegally revealed a former employee’s private medical information and treated him unfairly because of his disability.
The Salt Lake Tribune reported Wednesday, Sept. 27, that C.R. England allegedly divulged former driver and trainer Walter Watson’s disability to driver trainees in writing. The company also required Watson to disclose his condition to trainees, according to the lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City.
The alleged conduct violates the Americans With Disabilities Act, which bars employers from discriminating on the basis of disability, according to the suit. “The whole upsetting issue in this case is the release of [Watson’s] medical condition,” Sally Shanley, an EEOC attorney in Phoenix, told the Tribune. “They wanted other drivers to know about his condition [which] had nothing to do with his ability either as a driver or trainer.”
Watson worked for C.R. England for about six months before leaving involuntarily in 2003; he now lives in Alabama and drives for another company, where C.R. England’s alleged disclosures damaged Watson’s chances for employment, according to the suit. “It was an emotional and difficult thing for him to have to agree to,” Shanley told the Tribune. “When he began training, he did have a trainee, and he felt that it affected his relationship and his success in doing that.”
The EEOC wants a jury to order C.R. England, the nation’s largest hauler of refrigerated cargo, to compensate Watson for emotional pain and suffering, according to the Tribune; the agency also is seeking punitive damages from the company. Nelson Hayes, C.R. England’s general counsel, told the Tribune he had not seen the lawsuit and that it would be inappropriate for him to comment on any case in litigation.