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Obese Trucker Recovers Against Employer on Disability Discrimination Theory

By Allison C. Bizzano and Walter H. Sweek

VERDICTS & SETTLEMENTS

OREGON – Obese trucker recovers against employer on disability discrimination theory.

In McDuffy v. Interstate Distributor Co., Multnomah Cir. Ct. Case No. 0409-09172 (Oct. 5, 2005), a driver claiming disability due to morbid obesity sued his employer for employment discrimination. Plaintiff filed a workers’ compensation claim after spraining his ankle in a fall while exiting his truck.  Defendant accepted the claim and plaintiff returned to full duty two days later.  Plaintiff submitted to two medical exams, the first of which he failed.  Defendant suspended plaintiff from work for approximately three months.  Plaintiff alleged that defendant provided an inaccurate job description to the company doctor for the first medical exam.  Plaintiff was reinstated after he passed the second medical exam, approximately two months after the first exam. 

The driver alleged workers’ compensation retaliation, disability discrimination, and disability retaliation.  Plaintiff alleged that his employer retaliated against him by assigning plaintiff to truck routes requiring physical labor in excess of plaintiff’s job description, in response to his filing a workers’ compensation claim.  Plaintiff also alleged that defendant retaliated against plaintiff because he requested a reasonable accommodation and fought defendant’s alleged discrimination.  Plaintiff sought $9,000 in lost wages and $100,000 in non-economic damages for emotional distress. 

The jury awarded plaintiff $9,000 in lost wages and $100,000 in non-economic damages.  The jury returned a verdict for plaintiff on his claim of disability discrimination.  The jury returned a defense verdict on the claims of workers’ compensation retaliation and disability retaliation.