Sexually Harassed Female Truck Drivers Suffer Setback As Court Blasts EEOC's Trial Tactics
As if they hadn't suffered enough already, the female members of a class action lawsuit alleging sexual harassment have been dealt a blow by the legal system.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC as it is more commonly known, filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of dozens of female truck driving students, alleging sexual harassment. Before the court could hear the actual merits of the claims of these women, however, the court ruled that the women's legal proponent, the EEOC, would have to first investigate the merits of each and every worker's claim and attempt to reach a settlement with the defendants involved before litigation could be filed.
The ruling, which broadly sets a new legal standard for workplace class action suits in federal district courts, took effect for the states of Iowa, Arkansas, Missouri, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota. The ruling requires that the EEOC first investigate the merits of each individual claim making up the class, and make efforts to settle those individual claims before filing a class action suit. The EEOC argued that such a requirement places an undue burden on an agency that is already stretched to its limits.
What is even sadder is that caught in the middle of this legal struggle are the victims — the female plaintiffs in the trucking litigation. In December 2009, a complaint from female truck driver Monika Stark of Texas alleged that she was paired with a driver that constantly made crude remarks and sexual advances. Despite removing herself from that situation, she was paired with another male driver that demanded sex in return for a passing grade. The EEOC filed suit on behalf of Stark and on behalf of other female truck driver trainees who had also been subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace. The EEOC sent letters to thousands of female truck drivers, and 150 women came forward who maintained that they were subjected to oppressive sexual conduct while spending lengthy periods of time with their male truck driver trainers.Continued on the next page