Drivers sue FMCSA over pre-employment report information

| July 21, 2014

Indiana State Trooper inspection under truckSix drivers have filed a class-action lawsuit against the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration claiming the agency “disparaged” their safety records and diminished their value as truck drivers by oversharing information on their Pre-Employment Screening Program reports.

The drivers are seeking statutory damages of $1,000 per alleged violation for themselves and every member of the class, members of which would be determined by the court if the drivers win their suit.

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FMCSA says per its policy it does not comment on pending litigation.

The suit — which also names the Department of Transportation and the U.S. federal government as defendants — claims FMCSA “intentionally and willfully” sent reports to potential employers that overstepped the premise of the PSP reports.

According to claims in the court documents, PSP reports are only to contain accident reports and “reports of serious driver-related safety violations.”

The reports, which carriers obtain from FMCSA, are related to the agency’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability program and draw upon the agency’s Motor Carrier Management Information System. They include three years’ worth of inspection data and five years’ of crashes.

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PSP reports for the six drivers filing the suit, along with other potential members of the class, contained “violations of law not determined by the Secretary [of Transportation] to be ‘serious driver related violations’ under circumstances where motor carriers are entitled only to receive ‘serious driver-related safety violation inspection reports,’” according to the lawsuit.

The inclusion of such information also violates the 1974 Privacy Act, the suit alleges, in addition to damaging drivers’ reputation, hurting their earning potential and their employment prospects.

The six driver plaintiffs are Thomas Flock of Nebo, Ill.; Dennis Thompson of Mauk, Ga.; Thomas Gooden of Hudson, Fla.; Douglas Heisler of Peach Bottom, Pa.; Walter Johnson of Lawrence, Mass.; and Gayla Kyle of Ogden, Kan.

Their PSP reports included violations like excessive weight, speeding in the 6-10 mph range, failure to use a seatbelt, use of a radar detector, violations of hours rules, incorrect logs, failure to use hazard warning flashers and unlawful parking.

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The drivers claim in their suit these are not “serious driver-related violations,” according to the DOT’s determination.

‘[FMCSA’s] conduct is in flagrant disregard of the statutory rights of the plaintiff drivers and other similarly situated,” the suit reads. “The intentional and willful disparagement of driver qualifications violates the rights of commercial motor vehicle drivers under the Privacy Act. Such disparagement has a negative economic or pecuniary impact on” the drivers.

The class members would include, according to the suit, anyone who FMCSA has “collected, maintained and transmitted for dissemination” under the PSP inspection reports that have violations listed that are not deemed “serious driver-related safety violations.”

In addition to the damages of $1,000 per violation, the plaintiffs also are seeking cost of litigation and attorney’s fees and to establish a fund to pay damages to the class.

  • mandingo

    Why wouldn’t a potential employer want to know these things? If you’re going to bring their safety score down by speeding, cheating logs and not wearing a seatbelt, I think they should have some way of knowing these things. All these privacy arguments are a joke, your privacy comes second to my ability to keep my business running.

  • Confused

    So its all about you even if it tramples the rights of others?

  • Asphalt cowboy

    Of Course the fmcsa doesnt comment they know they are in the wrong!
    Drivers sue for other factors also like eld’s and this other csa crap that does nothing for safety
    Just start that part of the lawsuit others will join

  • Mind Games

    It’s when we allow the government to backdoor the taking of rights in the name of safety is when we should just burn the constitution and get it over with.

  • Asphalt cowboy

    I guess your not a truck driver?
    If you were you know your safety score going down is good that means your less likely to be involved in an accident if your the company. If your safety score is high you will be more than likely d.o.t’d more

  • Thomas Blake

    I agree, if we are required to hire safe drivers we need the tools to check them out. if I can be fined for a drivers logs I should be able to see that he/she runs a leagal log before I invest in the hireing of said driver.

  • shadow hauling

    In response to some of the other post, what happened with the company’s just requesting a driving reacord from the drivers state of license ? Why do we need the federal government getting involved in also submitting driving reports ? To me it’s just another back door way of taking away drivers rights. If they want to do that then they should also issue a national CDL and take it all away from the states. And while at it issue recipitory pistol permits to those that already have them or are eligible for them ! But what do I know, I’m just a dumb truck that’s getting used to being used and having it rammed up my ass !

  • Born

    You don’t burn the constitution.You enforce it. It is the law of the land. Not the opinions of do nothing full of themselves politicians. The enforcement officers lie and interpret the laws to make their numbers look good at the expense of hard working drivers. A truck driver has a bullseye on his back because he is easy revenue. This won’t be the last lawsuit I’m sure. Hopefully the laws will be rewritten by people that know what they are doing. Hopefully before enforcement officers are the ones that have to pay the price for enforcing unconstitutional laws. Don’t give up. Fight for what is right.

  • Bones

    It’s nothing but a three ring circus out here any more,a joke. Use to be proud to be truck driver, now they just want robots out here, you got to this you can’t do that,eww you got to many points were gona inspect you,oh and we’re not hirening you,BLABLABLA ,every body out to get one another. Why don’t they just do away with truck since were not safe, stupid,can’t do nothing on our own like little babes, let these company’s figure another way to get there BS moved.

  • Craig Vecellio

    Drivers do many of the things CSA looks for out of the necessity of appeasing dispatch. Frankly, it’s a reflection on their past employers more than it is the drivers. You have no more place knowing the details of the drivers’ day to day habits than the driver has knowing the details of every load you’ve sent a driver on. If you’re worried about speeding and cheating logs, run a governor and eLogs. By June 2016 both will be law. Then when the day to day habits of your entire fleet are in neon lights, we’ll see how well your business runs. With that attitude toward drivers, I know without knowing those day to day details that you’re part of the problem.

  • gary d

    I tried to get hired at a company and they said I had 3 incidents on my record and couldn’t hire me. When I asked what incidents they told me to pull my own DAC report. So I did no tickets, no accidents,no violations just things I voluntary reported to my former employer like a scratched bumper and 2 other minor things. I even received certificates for being accident free. So I know how they feel.

  • craigamunson

    the bottom line is companies just want to hire rookie drivers just out of truck driver school and pay low rates. we old experienced drivers have ‘bumps’ on our records since we have learned the hard way to REST independent of what the damn logbook says. Too many drivers have followed the HOS rules to the letter and then crashed into others killing people because they were too fatigued. We should have a trucker as head of the FMCSA. The FAA ALWAYS has a pilot as its administrator. Maybe thats why their HOS is more reasonable.

  • David D

    I’ve read all the comments;
    Has everyone forgotten the promise the FMCSA made?
    CSA scores “WOULDN’T be shared or accessed by INSURANCE COMPANIES”?
    The CSA scores were for the use by the FMCSA to keep track of “UNSAFE COMPANIES & DRIVER’S”

    We did get assurances to PREVENT ABUSE of these scores! Now who is responsible for this ABUSE?

    I’m sure we all know the answer to this. We as DRIVER’S get written up for EQUIPMENT we don’t own, or have nothing to do with the maintenance of said EQUIPMENT! However; we get the points added to our record for 36 months, the company 24 months.

    It would appear we need to use the law to PROTECT OURSELVES, “REFUSE” to drive the equipment….. Call the Field office in our states for the FMCSA and file a complaint if we are coerced or reprimanded for, doing what the law says we “MUST DO” by not driving UNSAFE equipment.

  • swave

    How do you join in the law suit?

  • Stillsmilin

    When are ya going to wske up snd realize that you’re just a federally owned cowboy??
    Bullshit!!!
    Nobody owns me!
    Nobody owns me on this evil planet!
    Oh yeah, then they take your money?!!
    The federal government is jammed packed with filthy thieves and liars working for the greater good to destroy this already evil planet.
    Where does the money go?
    Where does all that damn money go that they steal from us?!
    That money goes straight into the hands of Lucifer, laughing.
    You should look into how our wonderful government has made beastlity legal in the military!
    I stand firmly divided from a malfunctioning government like that,
    Don’t forget the new norm of gay marriage!
    You are all out of your cotton pickin minds thinking that your sad lies will convince to me to believe in this ungodly regime.
    That’s all for now.
    Time for me to saddle up and get gone.

  • Ronald Dean Foote Sr.

    I want to know who to contact to join this suit.
    They did the same thing to me.

  • David Jesse

    When you get hired on by a company ,myou sign a piece of paper requesting your p s p . If you were the owner of that company you would want to know the history of that driver . So they use your m vr , dac report and now your p sp . If a driver is having issues with logging he’s going to get me into trouble , if he can’t follow simple rules how is he going to handle the big ones ! This lawsuit isgrasping at straws ! The fmsca gets there matching orders from congress ! So why 2 million are not calling Washington ! Recently we had a driver who had major drinking issues , 3 small companies hired him and he was caught in Gary , driving over concrete blocks because he was so drunk ! Would you want him driving next to your family ? On the gun issue , did that driver that got shot in Detroit , if he had a gun would he still be alive ?

  • Compliance boss

    I would agree with the drivers if all those things did not also impact the comany’s record/safety rating (which is reviewed with a magnifying glass by insurance companies and customers). Even if what the driver does is against real company policy and gets them fired for doing it the company still eats the record for a number of years.

  • Silver Eagle

    I can’t agree with all that’s been said. As a 28 year driver and 9 year law enforcement not everything is about revenue. Some drivers are just a mwss, on my departments we did not have numbers to maintain and I was always called out for anything involving a commercial vehicle since I had driven ad was CMV certified.. The info given out is a direct violation of the privacy act no if and or buts about it.

  • tee

    The government is not using the Constitution anymore. That is one of the things causing the problems that this nation has.

  • mandingo

    Hiring crappy drivers impedes my ability to stay competitive in the market and to keep my 100+ employees employed and able to take care of themselves and their families. So yeah, if I have to “invade privacy” somehow to ensure my competitive edge then of course I will do it. Its advantageous for both myself and my employees to only hire the safest drivers. If I know they have the record of speeding or cheating logs, which will come back on me and impede my ability to compete, I cant take the chance of hiring them. You might be a great driver, but if you cant do it safely and legally, I have no use for you.

  • Jayne N. Montana

    what I don’t understand is a driver works for company A, and all his driving record and points stay with company A, when driver leaves and goes to Company B.. then Company B is also tagged with these points.. it would seem that once driver leaves Company A and his points are transferred to Company B, then the points should come off Company A. just my opinion

  • Dan

    “Points” do not transfer to the new company, They stay with the old company. The driver has his own score too which is only for that driver and those “Points” stay with you for three years. They are not added to they new companies score.

  • LaCrecia Petrey

    My Boss is a Jewish Carpenter. His name is JESUS. The lawlessness of the current administration is breaking laws that goes against my GOD’S LAW. Therefore when DOT PHYSICAL is done, blood pressure and urine were fine. I was instructed to make shoulders go forward and bow my head forward so they measured my neck that way. 3 month card so I can have a sleep study. I have insurance. This is going to cost big bucks. I have paid off debt. House and car paid off and just recently renewed house for a year on insurance and car for 6 months. I don’t think my BOSS wants me going into debt. Nor do I choose to believe Global warming being true without evidence. Theory doesn’t cut it. Need to get on CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT.
    Please help! LIFE, LIBERTY AND PERSUIT OF HAPPINESS???

  • Thompson Pass Trucker

    Adding slightly to Dan – it’s the DRIVER who has collected the (driver) violation points, ergo, the ‘record’ travels with the driver.
    No different than you maybe wanting to know some about the history of who is dating your daughter/son, it’s only right that an employer get the full, real story about who they’re hiring.
    BTW, the driver can also look into the company’s past history. I’ll be damned if I want to go to work for some company that has a horrible safety record. THEY MIGHT KILL ME with their lax record!

  • Thompson Pass Trucker

    Deceitful drivers are no less responsible or legal than deceitful companies.

    You wouldn’t want your daughter/son to date some rapist or killer, or even someone who had been convicted of ‘peeping,’ would you?

    Unless there is disclosure no one knows what lies lurk in someones past. That stand for drivers as well as companies.

    Your rights end at my front bumper, mine at yours. I’ve got nothing to hide – you shouldn’t either.

  • NoBULL

    What planet are riding off to?

  • Jayne N. Montana

    sometimes a companies record, while high on points does not accurately reflect company safety.. my hubby drives, he just had new tires all around his tractor, less than 100 miles out he goes into the scale house, where the inspector see a bolt in the tire and puts him out of service, 2 hours ago the tires were brand new, now he is out of service, or in the morning after doing precheck all lights works, go thru the scales several hours later, and you guessed it, one of the lights is out.. there goes the points. I do agree some companies are REALLY lax, but the majority of them fall into these types of safety points

  • Jayne N. Montana

    what is p s p and where do you get one?

  • David Jesse

    You can go to fmsca web site , look under drivers and click on psp . It costs 10$ . Every time you get a inspection or stopped it goes on your psp . It has points attach due to violation severity . It stays on your record for 3 years and accidents for 5 . You can call me , it’s hard to explain ,216-392-6462

  • psycho

    This is a follow up suit. Hire right lost same lawsuit awhile back. Hire right bought dac right after they lost the lawsuit.

  • jojo

    OOIDA!!!!!
    Why don’t you consider joining us members of an organization that is fighting for ALL TRUCKERS. We are pennies fighting against DOLLARS so that all Drivers may benefit.

  • jojo

    If we Drivers are going to be held to the letter of the law then so should Anne Ferro (did she break the law with her blog post???) and so should the FMCSA, DOT and all other govt. agencies.
    The issue is not about employers having info on the Drivers. The issue is about what info is legally allowed to be disclosed through the PSP process. Remember, this info is obtained through roadside inspections where the officer is judge, jury an executioner.
    If a Driver receives a log book ticket or speeding ticket the Driver has a day in court to be proved guilty. If found guilty this violation will be on the Drivers MVR.

  • jojo

    If we Drivers are going to be held to the letter of the law then so should Anne Ferro (did she break the law with her blog post???) and so should the FMCSA, DOT and all other govt. agencies.
    The issue is not about employers having info on the Drivers. The issue is about what info is legally allowed to be disclosed through the PSP process. Remember, this info is obtained through roadside inspections where the officer is judge, jury an executioner.
    If a Driver receives a log book ticket or speeding ticket the Driver has a day in court to be proved guilty. If found guilty this violation will be on the Drivers MVR.

    Pat Hockaday jojo859585@gmail.com

  • change needed

    Can I join this lawsuit?

  • aaronmutulo

    It’s more about these new guys cuz they will drive for whatever the carriers want to pay which is what lowers the standards for all

  • Arleen Wells

    I work for Potomac Xpress in Fairless Hills PA and I love to hire experienced, not rookie, flatbed drivers. Problem is they are hard to find. So if you see any who need to work, local work (home each night with maybe one night layover and off each weekend), send them my way! 215-310-5250. Experience counts. With age, is wisdom and respect!

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