The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of a female trucker who accused CRST of firing her after she complained about being being approached by a naked co-driver in a shared hotel room.
Female Trucker Says Co-Driver Sexually Harassed Her During 3 Week Trip
The lawsuit was filed in 2014 after an incident in which CRST paired truck driver Robin Anderson with male co-driver Eric Vegtel for a three week haul from the east coast to California. Anderson reported that Vegtel had behaved inappropriately throughout the trip, allegedly driving with his pants undone and making sexual comments. Anderson says that the incident culminated when their truck broke down in Pennsylvania. She says that she asked CRST for a separate hotel room, but that the company refused to reimburse her.
Anderson says that during the night in the shared hotel room, her 400 pound co-worker approached her totally nude while she slept and sat on her bed.
According to the lawsuit, Anderson complained about the incident to CRST, but they refused to investigate and stopped assigning her loads. Vegtel was flagged internally by CRST, meaning that he was not to be paired with another female driver, but otherwise faced no consequences for his alleged actions. Neither Anderson or Vegtel were informed by CRST that Vegtel was no longer allowed to be paired with female drivers.
CRST argued that Anderson was not fired and that she was terminated only after abandoning her job.
Court: CRST Did Not Do Enough To Address Hostile Work Environment Claims
Anderson’s case was dismissed in 2015 after a District Court ruled that CRST could not be held liable because it had addressed Anderson’s harassment claim.
On March 24, however, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Anderson in a 2-1 decision. The court found that CRST did not do enough to address Anderson’s complaints of a hostile work environment: “We have held that an employer’s remedy is not effective even though it stops harassment if the remedy targets the victim and puts her in a worse position.”
The court also sided with Anderson on the retaliation charges: “If Anderson did not abandon her job, then CRST has failed to proffer a non-retaliatory reason for her termination.“