Deaf man wins $36 million in ADA discrimination lawsuit against Werner trucking companies

Werner Enterprises said they wouldn’t hire him because he was deaf even though he had earned his CDL from a trucking school owned by the company.
(WVVA News)
Published: Sep. 5, 2023 at 1:15 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A federal jury found in favor of a man who claimed that he had been discriminated against by two Omaha-based truck-driving companies because he was deaf.

According to a report last week from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the jury awarded Victor Robinson $75,000 compensation and $36 million in punitive damages from Werner Enterprises and its subsidiary, Drivers Management, after deliberating for two hours.

“The jury heard the evidence and called Werner’s conduct what it was — unacceptable,” Andrea G. Baran, regional attorney for EEOC’s St. Louis District, said in the release.

Upon completing a Werner-owned truck driving school and earning his commercial driver’s license, known as a CDL, Robinson also obtained an official exemption from the hearing regulation from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. He then applied at the company in 2016 but was turned down. An executive told Robinson he didn’t get the job because he was deaf.

“After he applied, Werner’s Vice President of Safety told Robinson that the company would not hire him because he could not hear,” the release states. “The Vice President of Safety testified at trial that Werner continues to deny employment opportunities to new deaf drivers.”

The jury found that the companies had violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and had discriminated against Robinson, who was well-qualified for their positions.

“Like everyone else, deaf people deserve a fair chance to make a living and to support themselves and their families,” St. Louis District Director David Davis said in the release.

The case was argued by the EEOC regional office in St. Louis, which oversees compliance in Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and a portion of southern Illinois.