Prime Trucking's Training Policy Found to Discriminate Against Female Truck Drivers

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A federal judge ruled August 14 that New Prime, Inc., one the nation's largest trucking companies, violated federal law by discriminating against female truck driver applicants when it required that they be trained only by female trainers.

The court found that the company, which does business as Prime, engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination by denying employment opportunities to women through its same-sex trainer policy, according to the ruling in EEOC and Clouse v. New Prime, Inc., No. 6:11-cv-03367 MDH (W.D. Mo.).

In motions filed with the court earlier this year, the EEOC sought to have the court rule that the policy was discriminatory as a matter of law. Prime sought to have the case dismissed on several grounds. The court rejected all of Prime's motions and ruled that the company's policy violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 because it discriminated against women.

Prime adopted its policy in 2003 after it was found in a previous EEOC lawsuit to have violated Title VII based upon the sexual harassment of one of its female driver trainees. In September 2011, based on a discrimination charge filed by Deanna Roberts Clouse, the EEOC filed suit against Prime again. The EEOC charged that Prime's policy of assigning female trainees only to female trainers discriminated against Clouse and all other female applicants for truck driver trainee positions because of their sex. Because Prime had very few female trainers, this practice resulted in female trainees waiting extended periods of time, sometimes up to 18 months, for a female driver to become available, which resulted in most female drivers being denied employment. Male applicants were promptly assigned to male trainers.

The case is pending in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri in Springfield, Mo., and will now proceed with determining damages and remedies for the class of women who were harmed by the policy. 

According to company information, Prime is one of the nation's largest refrigerated, flatbed and tanker carriers. It is based in Springfield and employs over 2,000 persons. Prime provides truck-freight services to a customer base in Mexico, the United States and Canada.

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