September 1, 2023

New anti-harassment guidance could raise compliance bar for trucking


WASHINGTON — New guidelines aimed at cracking down on workplace harassment could give women and minorities in trucking more leverage to fight back against bad-actor carriers.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission earlier this month sent to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for approval draft guidance, “Proposed Enforcement Guidance on Harassment in the Workplace.” A public comment period will follow OMB review before the guidelines are finalized.

“In November 2017, the [EEOC] voted to unanimously approve a new harassment guidance, but that document was never finalized or published,” an EEOC spokesperson told FreightWaves. “Since that time, some notable changes in society and the law have occurred, including the #MeToo movement going viral and issuance of new court decisions that required additional updates to the draft guidance.”

While the updated draft is not yet publicly available, the 75-page 2017 version laid the groundwork. It included five core principles identified in by EEOC’s Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment “that have generally proven effective in preventing and addressing harassment,” according to the agency:

  • Committed and engaged leadership.
  • Consistent and demonstrated accountability.
  • Strong and comprehensive harassment policies.
  • Trusted and accessible complaint procedures.
  • Regular, interactive training tailored to the audience and the organization.

EEOC recommended that employers consider taking more concrete steps to stem harassment, such as providing sufficient staff time for harassment prevention efforts and implementing bystander intervention training.

In drafting the 2017 guidelines, EEOC’s task force took into account three “real-life” examples of harassment discrimination. They included the case of Contonius Gill, an African-American truck driver fired from a North Carolina-based trucking company in retaliation for complaining about racial harassment.

In FY 2018, the EEOC filed 66 workplace harassment lawsuits, 41 of which alleged sexual harassment — more than 50% increase in sexual harassment suits over FY 2017. They included a lawsuit against Prime Inc. for failing to take adequate steps to prevent the sexual harassment of a female truck driver, and against Alliance Ground International for failing to address complaints from multiple women about being sexual harassed by a male supervisor.

More recent EEOC harassment and discrimination lawsuits against trucking companies include a $45,000 settlement from Pinnacle Logistics for failing to stop sex-based harassment of a female worker that was so intolerable that she was forced to quit and a $1.25 million settlement paid by R&L Carriers that required the company to take steps to prevent future discrimination against female job applicants.

Asked to comment, Desiree Wood, who heads REAL Women in Trucking Association, said that updates to EEOC anti-harassment and discrimination policy are needed in a male-dominated industry that has been slow to adjust to social changes.

“From where I sit, a lot of the trucking industry doesn’t feel like they need to comply with any of this stuff,” Wood told FreightWaves. “As far as they’re concerned, they’re satisfied with a couple of lines on the bottom of their websites saying they don’t discriminate. But for many of them, they don’t actually follow through on a lot of that stuff.

“At the end of day, it’s not like there are sinister trucking CEOs out there saying, ‘Let’s discriminate against women.’ It’s a culture change, and the time and effort it takes to do that, and that costs money.”

Click for more FreightWaves articles by John Gallagher.


The second annual F3: Future of Freight Festival will be held in Chattanooga, “The Scenic City,” this November. F3 combines innovation and entertainment — featuring live demos, industry experts discussing freight market trends for 2024, afternoon networking events, and Grammy Award-winning musicians performing in the evenings amidst the cool Appalachian fall weather.

Source link
In this article:
Share on social media: