Firm’s Victory Clarifies ADA Law in Failure To Hire Cases

On July 12, 2016, this firm’s client, Domenico Transportation, received a favorable ruling from the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in an employment lawsuit.  The Tenth Circuit affirmed the ruling of the United States District Court for Colorado that granted summary judgment in favor of Domenico.  The case involved an applicant for employment who had responded to a published advertisement by Domenico.  Among other qualifications, the ad required applicants to have “3-Yrs verifiable mountain driving” experience.  The applicant completed a pre-application questionnaire.  Instead of listing the requested experience, the applicant identified a long period of unemployment due to treatments for leukemia that had since gone into remission.  Because the questionnaire did not include the requested information about driving experience, Domenico decided not to advance the applicant in the hiring process.  During a courtesy call to advise the applicant of the decision, the applicant protested that the failure to advance his application violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

During discovery in the subsequent lawsuit, Domenico learned that the applicant had, at best, 18 months of mountain driving experience—about one-half of the amount required in Domenico’s ad.  The courts found that the applicant did not have adequate qualifications for an essential job function: mountain driving.  The courts gave great weight to Domenico’s stated rationales for why three years of mountain driving experience constituted a legitimate and essential job qualification.  Because the applicant was not otherwise qualified to perform an essential job function, the courts found that the applicant could not state a claim under the ADA.  Likewise, because Domenico had made the decision not to advance the applicant in the hiring process before he made his protest under the ADA, the courts found that Domenico’s conduct did not constitute retaliation under the ADA.  The Tenth Circuit opinion provides clarification regarding the appropriate legal standards applicable in failure to hire cases, and reflects a considerable victory for transportation companies under these circumstances.  To review a copy of the opinion, click here.