Taxi Company Pays $30,000 for Disability Discrimination

Vegas Western Cab Company, which provides taxi services in Nevada, will pay $30,000 to a disabled job applicant and furnish other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the agency announced today.

In its lawsuit (EEOC v. Vegas Western Cab Company, Case No. 2:09-cv-01888-GMN-PAL), EEOC asserted that the taxi cab company refused to hire Joel Walden, a single-arm amputee who applied for a taxi driver position in 2006, due to his disability. Walden was rejected although he met all of the requirements stated in the job announcement, had experience as a driver and an unblemished driving record, EEOC said. The agency further charged that the company commingled the medical records of employees, such as doctor’s notes, with other personnel records, thus failing to maintain the confidentiality of those medical records.

EEOC argued that the conduct was in direct violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act. EEOC said it originally filed the lawsuit in September 2009 on the applicant’s behalf after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement.

Aside from the monetary relief, the parties entered into a three-year consent decree, which requires Vegas Western Cab to provide clear protocols for handling applications from disabled job applicants; revise and disseminate its EEO policy and procedures; include a non-discrimination statement in all job postings and application materials; provide annual ADA training; and report training and complaints of disability bias to EEOC.

"In this case, the applicant was ready, willing and able to do the work," said Anna Y. Park, regional attorney for EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office. “When evaluating a disabled job applicant, the sole consideration should be whether the applicant can do the job. It is plainly and clearly illegal to deny employment to a qualified individual based on disability-related assumptions.”

Lucy V. Orta, director of EEOC’s Las Vegas Local Office, added, "Employers must ensure that the medical information of employees and applicants is maintained separately from personnel records. Even the inadvertent mixing of medical and personnel documents is a direct violation of the ADA."

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