The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has ordered New Prime Trucking, Inc. to pay $3.1 million for a policy that they say discriminates against female truck driving job seekers by requiring that they be trained by female trainers.
Lack Of Female Trainers Kept Female Students Waiting For Months
Prime adopted a policy requiring female truck drivers to train exclusively with female trainers in 2004 following a previous EEOC lawsuit which alleged that the company did not protect female trainees from sexual harassment at the hands of male trainers.
Because Prime has very few female trainers, some trainees were waiting as many as 18 months for an available trainer, according to court documents. Male trainees, on the other hand, were much more quickly paired with male trainers.
In 2011, Deanna Roberts Clouse filed a discrimination charge against Prime with the EEOC, alleging that most female applicants were being denied employment because of the policy. Because of Clouse’s suit, Prime dropped the policy in 2013.
Prime Ordered To Pay Women Denied Job Opportunities
Courts ruled in favor of Clouse and ordered Prime to pay her $250,000. They were also ordered to pay $2.8 million to 63 other women who were denied employment because of the same sex training policy.
On May 27, the court permanently ordered Prime to stop any practices that prevent women from gaining employment — meaning that the company won’t be allowed to adopt their same sex trainer policy again.
Prime Says Same Sex Training Policy Was Designed With Over-The-Road Workplace In Mind
Prime explained that they enacted the policy for the protection of female drivers because of the unique workplace environment that they would be exposed to: “Before implementing the policy Prime considered factors unique to the trucking industry and to the circumstances of trainers and trainees in an over-the-road training environment, such as being on the road for weeks at time, hundreds or even over a thousand miles from Prime’s headquarters; spending extended periods of time in the confined space of a truck cab; living on the truck; changing clothes on the truck; sleeping on the truck; and, in some instances, using portable toilets on the truck. Prime also considered that trainees might perceive that they were in a subservient role to their trainers.”
The EEOC, however, says that it is insulting to men to assume that they will harass their female students: “We should not expect that these women will be sexually harassed. It is disrespectful to men everywhere to assume that they will harass women if they work together in close quarters. Rather, employers have a responsibility to adopt strict anti-harassment policies and practices and enforce them so that all employees — regardless of sex — can work and succeed together.”