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Deaf driver awarded $36 million after trucking company refused to hire him, feds say

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An Omaha, Nebraska, jury voted to award a driver with a hearing disability tens of millions of dollars after finding that the trucking company that refused to hire him violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Victor Robinson was awarded $75,000 in compensatory damages and $36,000,000 in punitive damages in his case against Drivers Management, LLC and Werner Enterprises, Inc., according to a September 1 statement from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

According to the EEOC, Robinson, who is deaf, completed training at Roadmaster, a Werner-owned truck driving school, and obtaining his commercial driver’s license. Robinson also obtained an exemption from the hearing regulation from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

However, authorities say that when Robinson applied to be a driver for Werner in 2016, “Werner’s Vice President of Safety told Robinson that the company would not hire him because he could not hear.”

Additionally, the Werner Vice President of Safety testified that Werner continues to deny employment to deaf drivers.

“Victor Robinson had the courage to step forward and say what happened to him was wrong,” said EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows. “The jury agreed, and their substantial verdict sends a clear message to employers everywhere that our nation will not tolerate disability discrimination.”

“Werner’s refusal to acknowledge Mr. Robinson’s abilities hurt not only him, but the entire Deaf community,” said EEOC’s trial team, Supervisory Trial Attorney Joshua M. Pierson and Trial Attorneys Meredith S. Berwick and Lauren Wilson. “As this verdict demonstrates, companies like Werner that deny reasonable accommodations to drivers with disabilities do so at their peril.”

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