Trucker reaches settlement in Americans with Disabilities Act lawsuit

October 20, 2020

Tyson Fisher

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A trucker who filed a lawsuit against a trucking company for allegedly violating the Americans with Disabilities Act has reached a settlement in the case.

On Oct. 16, the case between William Eshleman and Elkhart, Ind.-based Patrick Industries was dismissed after the two parties reached a settlement, according to court documents. An attorney representing Eshleman could not disclose the terms of the settlement when reached by Land Line, citing a confidentiality agreement.

This ends a three-year battle between a trucker and a company he accused of illegally firing him under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Eshleman, of Millersville, Pa., began trucking for Patrick Industries at a terminal in Mount Joy, Pa.,  in July 2013. He took medical leave between October 2015 and December 2015 to undergo surgery to remove a nodule from his left lung, according to the first amended complaint. The removal was to test for cancer.

After two months of medical leave, Eshleman returned to work. Six weeks later, he suffered a severe respiratory infection that lasted several days. His supervisor approved two vacation days to recover. However, on this second day of his return, Patrick Industries fired Eshleman.

According to court documents, Eshleman said he was fired because of performance issues.

Eshleman claimed his latest performance review received nothing but 4.5 and 5 ratings on a 5-point scale in every category. The lawsuit claims that a supervisor then changed the explanation for Eshleman’s termination to failing to call in sick. The suit claims the reason for the termination was changed a third time, to behavioral issues.

However, Eshleman claimed the changing explanation was a way to cover illegal disability discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

He said in court documents he was fired because Patrick Industries “perceived that (Eshleman) suffered from a long-term or chronic medical condition, which would affect his attendance in the future, like it had in the immediate past, due to what they perceived as continuing medical issues.”

A U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania dismissed the case in favor of Patrick Industries in February 2019. However, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that decision in June. Details about the appellate decision can be found here. LL

Truckstop.com

Tyson Fisher joined Land Line Magazine in March 2014. An award-winning journalist and tireless researcher, his news reports, features and blogs bring depth to our editorial content, backed with solid detail. Tyson is a lifelong Kansas Citian.