Judge: Prime Driver Trainer Policies Discriminate Against Women


Prime, Inc has come under fire from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In 2011, the EEOC filed a lawsuit claiming that Prime had unfair hiring practices that discriminated against women. Recently a federal judge ruled in favor of the EEOC, saying that Prime was violating federal law. The issue involved however is a little more complicated than it may seem.

The problem stems from Prime’s policy that female drivers must train with a female driver trainer. This policy on its own seems to make sense in light of all-too-common complaints of harassment from female trainees being forced to live in close quarters with male trainers. In fact it was adopted just after a sexual harassment lawsuit was brought against Prime by one of its female trainees.

From a carrier’s point of view the policy can easily be seen as both a compassionate and a sensible rule that limits liability and risk of a lawsuit. Of course the results of the policy were different than what was originally intended.

The unexpected byproduct of their policy was that female trainees sometimes had to wait long periods of time before a female driver trainer was available, making it harder for female drivers to join up than for male drivers. The EEOC claimed that female trainees sometimes had to wait as long as 18 months for a trainer to become available.

The court case will continue with determining what damages are payable to the class of women who were affected by the policy and how to remedy the problem.


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26 comments. Add a comment.

  1. Ray says

    Interesting dilemma … perhaps Prime should do criminal background checks on all it’s drivers and allow women to choose to wait or to train with a man.

  2. John says

    I think this has always been a problem for woman. Not enough woman in trucking and certainly not a lot of them training. I think many team with husbands so not many would want to train especially if they might have to train men as well. This to me is not solely a Prime issue but a industry one.

  3. D says

    There you are again, Ray! People have background checks prior to employment with legitimate trucking companies, such as Prime. The problem is some men think because it’s “their” truck, they can act inappropriately toward a female trainee. So, it’s become “best practice” to have males train with males, and females train with females thus avoiding a sexual harassment lawsuit…or worse, a rape case.

    • says

      What you call a “best practice” in fact violates Title VII of the Civil Rights of 1964 which prohibits discrimination in employment based on race, religion, national origin and sex. This is no different from a legal standpoint that only allowing blacks to train blacks and whites to train whites.

    • Ray says

      Limiting women to women trainers when the wait times are that long amounts to discrimination d. From my own experience I can tell you you’re wrong about those background checks.

      • Donna says

        They weren’t denied employment, maybe not employed within their timeframe but I didn’t read ANYWHERE that said females can’t work for prime. So males can sue because only other males can train them?

  4. catfish says

    Hey D you are wrong about background checks. Only about 60 percent of drivers are checked. The legitimate companies only check a percentage of the applicants. They use a company called USIS and they only check for certain things. It all depends on what the carrier has paid for. I bet you have sex offenders and felons working for your company, just like every company.

  5. Fozzy says

    Adults just need to be adults, and in this country..that’s not going to happen. It would also help if more women actually respected their female counterparts. I have had female students who when under the training of a female instructor.. totally disregard her training and demand that a male instructor insure them that they were taught the “correct way”.. Women are some of the biggest discriminators against other women.

  6. Anon Female says

    I went through this with a similar company that I left because I was tired of waiting. I’ve talked to companies that have 9 month waiting lists. It’s not fair but not so bad if the company pays you each day while you wait on a female trainer.

  7. Robert says

    PRIME INC May’ consider more female trainers happier female trainees..
    better situation’ for PRIME INC. I was their 2004.

  8. Donna says

    It’s a tough situation! It’s easier to say just get more female trainers & problem solved. How many drivers want to be teamed up? And then to be teamed up with a trainee? I don’t imagine there’s a lot wanting that job. If I were Prime , all training would be ONLY day runs. NO overnight

  9. Joe Skeptical says

    Two things going on here, training and M/F combinations.

    1. Trainers only do it to get more miles & money, anything a “trainee” learns is an “accident” (pun intended) an please don’t say otherwise. You’re trucking company hack OR you’re in La La Land.

    2. How about female “trainers” and male “trainees”; ever see that? Women – since the beginning of time – want it both ways; require female instructs when there aren’t enough, then sue over it.

    This is not because there aren’t enough CDL holders; FAR FROM IT.
    The trucking companies are mostly abusive, by design, because the bigger ones make lots of money from big new driver turnover. Paying a “trainee” $50-75 per day for weeks on end, then 25-26¢ per mile for like, 6 months? Then a HUGE (ha ha) raise to 28¢ (ha ha ha) is MUCH MORE PROFITABLE than paying good drivers a good salary. The accidents and problems are worth it.
    For $2.50 mile in freight charges, a reefer carrier should pay a driver at least 75¢ per mile (one quarter) but when will that ever happen? With an endless line of bunk monkeys….

  10. Donna says

    I DON’T see the discrimination, if you don’t like a companies policy go somewhere else. I also don’t agree with the requested compensation:
    The commission requested a jury trial and asked the court award Roberts and other similar female applicants:

    Back pay with prejudgment interest.
    Money for past and future financial losses resulting from the policy described, including relocation, job search and medical expenses that would have been provided through employment at Prime.
    Compensation for past and future non-financial losses, such as emotional pain and inconvenience.
    Punitive damages for malicious and reckless conduct.

  11. Bob says

    What does having a felony have to do with driving for a trucking company? If it does not directly relate to the freight that is being hauled, someone’s past should not affect their ability to have gainful employment.
    Also, both sexes should be given the choice of who they would like to train with. Not just a Male or not just a female but you should also be able to interview the person that you’re going to be training with.

  12. Tia says

    As a female driver that learned the ropes from a male trainer, I have to agree that this IS a difficult issue for everyone concerned. Good trainers of ANY gender are hard to find, period. I had a good experience, but I was very lucky. I heard all the horror stories from every possible combination of trainer/trainee. Just as many M/M combos had issues as M/F or F/M, or F/F for that matter. Another woman that finished training shortly after me had problems with her Lesbian trainer! The issue really lies in the difficult situation of planting two strangers in a jail cell for weeks on end and expecting them to get along without supervision. And it’s just as awkward for the trainers having some stranger in their truck. My own trainer had a previous female student sexually harass him, he turned her out at the nearest terminal, but didn’t file a complaint over it. I just don’t see how they could do things differently and still have trainees graduating even halfway safely. A day cab training program wouldn’t teach new drivers half the things they really need to know about the road and would only expose them to a very limited area. My trainer and I ran coast to coast, and by the time I finished nearly five weeks out we’d hit 3 of the 4 corners of the US, been on long desert runs, mtns, plains, and even a slice of hurricane season. I still didn’t know a dang thing when I graduated, but at least I was starting to get the right idea before I hit the road on my own. Three years later I’m still driving with a safe record.

  13. Kajidono says

    Personally, I would either eliminate trainers and refuse to take anyone without experience, which the lawyers can do NOTHING about, or fold the company, liquidate all assets, and retire very rich, which the lawyers can do NOTHING about. GO sue McDonalds for having hot coffee, see if I care.

    • Ray says

      Well, that may work for one company but not the industry. If no new drivers get hired soon there will be no more drivers.

  14. William P says

    How is it discrimination? They ARE hiring women! But because of all the frivolous/false allegations of harrassment, they have to protect themselves and their employees.

  15. Vivian says

    The problem is that men even men without criminal backgrounds view women as providers of a service. Women on the other hand refuse to understand that there is a difference between men and women.
    My female trainer was horribly mean..then i got a male trainer. Just keep the atmosphere about trucking and don’t get off track.

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