Is the FMCSA Sharing Too Much Driver Information?

There has been a lot of recent talk, across all industries, about background checks and how they affect hiring decisions.  What should legally affect a hiring decision and what shouldn’t?  The best rule of thumb (after following FMCSA proper procedure of having the right documents and releases sign by a potential employee) is to allow a history directly related to the job hold any weight.

It could be reasonable not to hire someone with a felony alcohol theft charge to work in an ABC store.  However, that is essentially where it ends.  Rejecting someone from a job solely because of their background check that had nothing directly to do with the job applied for is unlawful and discrimination.  Furthermore, it completely contradicts the notion of rehabilitation that prison sentences are supposed to provide individuals.  If all employers rejected former prisoners our workforce would be in more trouble than it is now.

fmcsa.dot.gov
fmcsa.dot.gov

But what about with trucking?  In 2014 six truck drivers filed a class-action lawsuit against the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) for “violating the 1974 Privacy Act and its own protocol by including certain violation history in the drivers’ Pre-Employment Screening reports.”  The plaintiffs were seeking $1000 for each time the agency sent out a report with the alleged “non-serious violations.”  What constitutes serious or non-serious?

Non-serious vs. Serious Violations

Non-serious violations would include speeding tickets (6-10mph over range), excessive weight violations, violation of hours rules, incorrect logs, and unlawful parking.  Serious violations would include speeding in excess of 20mph+, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and refusing to stop for an officer.

The six drivers lost their case.  The court determined that the Pre-employment Screening Program did not violate drivers’ privacy by providing non-serious safety violations to potential employers.  Judge Norman Stahl for the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stated, “the disclosure of other non-serious driver-related safety violations, such as speeding tickets or other fines, would presumably help achieve Congress’s objective in empowering the FMCSA to promote highway safety.”  The example at the beginning of this article supports this notion.

Any violation related to driving is relevant to the hiring decision of truck drivers.  This looks at violations related to their job, not if they have a petty larceny charge when they were nineteen years old.  Serious or non-serious, any moving or traffic violations is relevant when hiring a truck driver.  Also, seeing all the violations a potential employer can see if there are habits or a pattern of escalation.  A driver that habitually has incorrect logs says something either about their poor training or poor character.  A onetime violation of this kind of violation would actually speak will of the driver.  It shows that they learned the lesson and have not repeated it.

Conclusion – For Now

The plaintiffs didn’t leave it at that.  They took their case to the Supreme Court.  But, as of June 20th, the U.S. Supreme Court refused the case, upholding the lower court’s decision.  What has been a three-year effort has resulted in no changes for truck drivers.  The message here is that big or small, violations while being a truck driver are that, violations.  They will stick with you and paint a picture of you as a driver.  That isn’t to say a clean record equals a great and reliable driver.  But you cannot sweep multiple logging violations under the rug because they are “non-serious violations.”  Every other industry judges it’s candidates based on their work performance history, trucking isn’t an exception.

The answer to the title of this article?  Until further notice, nope.

Original source: Overdrive Online