The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced this week that New Prime Trucking, Inc, one of the nation’s largest trucking companies, will pay over $3 million in settlement to a group of women who allege they were victims of the company’s unlawful discriminatory hiring policy. According to the EEOC, the settlements followed a court order finding that the company violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by discriminating against female truck driver applicants when it required that they be trained only by female trainers.
EEOC filed suit against the company based on a charge of discrimination filed by Deanna Roberts Clouse. The lawsuit alleged that because Prime had very few female trainers, its same-sex trainer policy forced female trainees to wait extended periods of time (sometimes up to 18 months) for a female trainer to become available. The policy resulted in most female driver trainees being denied employment. In contrast, male applicants were promptly assigned to male trainers. Prime ceased using its same-sex trainer policy as a result of the EEOC’s lawsuit.
After the court’s order on liability against Prime, the company agreed to pay $250,000 to Clouse to resolve her claims. In addition, Prime agreed by consent decree to pay over $2.8 million in lost wages and damages to 63 other women who were denied job opportunities. In addition, the court permanently enjoined Prime from discriminating against applicants or employees on the basis of sex and ordered that Prime shall not implement a same-sex trainer policy that “creates barriers to the entry or advancement of female driver applicants or employees.”
This case is one of a series of EEOC cases aimed at eliminating hiring barriers for women in the workplace. The EEOC intends to continue its national priority of prosecuting lawsuits against employers to eliminate barriers in recruitment and hiring practices that discriminate against racial, ethnic and religious groups, older workers, women and people with disabilities.