Amsted Rail Co. Inc., which manufactures steel castings for the rail industry, will pay $4.4 million and furnish other relief to settle a class disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
The EEOC charged the Chicago-based company with violating federal disability law when it disqualified job applicants based on the results of a nerve conduction test for carpal tunnel syndrome (performed by a third-party contractor) rather than conducting an individualized assessment of each applicant’s ability to do the job safely.
The EEOC filed its lawsuit in 2014 (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Amsted Rail Co., Inc., Civil Action No. 14-cv-1292-JPG-SCW) in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois seeking relief for Montrell Ingram and other applicants who sought work as “chippers” at the company’s Granite City, Ill., facility.
Chippers use a hammer or grinder to remove metal protrusions from steel casings. In November 2017, the court ruled Amsted Rail’s use of the nerve conduction test was unlawful, finding that it had little or no value in predicting the likelihood of future injury. (EEOC v. Amsted Rail Co., 280 F. Supp. 3d 1141 (S.D. Ill. 2017)).
Under the consent decree, Amsted Rail is required to provide lost wages and compensatory damages to 40 applicants who were unlawfully denied employment opportunities because of the company’s unlawful hiring practices. In addition, the company will make job offers to some of the applicants and will adopt policies that will prevent similar discriminatory practices in the future.
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