Truck Driver With Hearing Disability Receives $30,000 in Discrimination Lawsuit Against California DMV, Alleges Employees Refused to Allow Him to Take Driving Test

SUMMARY: The California Department of Motor Vehicles has paid a truck driver $30,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit. Anthony Thong, an aspiring interstate truck driver who was born without one ear and is legally deaf, had a provisional commercial license and cleared all medical examinations, but was allegedly denied the opportunity to take his final driving tests because of his appearance and disability.

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – To settle a 2014 federal discrimination lawsuit filed in the Central District of California (case no.: 2:14-cv-05107), the California Department of Motor Vehicles has paid $30,000 to a truck driver who was born without one ear and is legally deaf. Anthony Thong, now a gainfully employed interstate truck driver, had a provisional commercial driver’s license and had cleared all medical examinations, but alleges that the Montebello DMV denied him the opportunity to take his final driving tests because of his appearance and disability.

In July 2012, Thong alleges he attempted to take a pre-trip inspection and five-point demonstration, which is the first part of his final commercial driver’s license test. He needed to pass the tests to pursue a career in interstate truck driving. Upon arriving at the Montebello DMV office, Thong waited with numerous other test-takers, each of whom was called up to take the test. When Thong’s name was called, he alleges that the DMV employee questioned him about his ears, made him re-take an eye examination several times, and then made him wait for several hours only to be told to come back the next day. Upon returning the next day, Thong alleges that another DMV employee similarly refused to allow him to take the tests.

“My experience was entirely humiliating and unnecessary. I hope this settlement sends a message to the DMV and others that they cannot treat people with disabilities this way, and based on how they look,” said Thong. “I hope they re-train their employees, because they certainly need it.”

After being refused twice by the Montebello DMV office, Thong later scheduled the same test with another DMV office and had no problems. He passed the test and obtained his commercial trucking license. He recently worked as a driver for FedEx.

Thong brought his lawsuit under the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and California statutes.

Read the complaint here:

Thong v. California Department of Motor Vehicles