Truckers whose reputations are tarnished by false, misleading, and inaccurate reports face an uphill battle removing pre-employment information from the Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS).
After a pair of truckers had citations dismissed in court, their expectation was the safety violation information would be removed from the system. Much to their chagrin, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) not only resisted clearing their professional reputations, but officials also refused. Like many Americans, it seemed only fair that a not guilty or outright dismissal of a misdemeanor charge should be erased. But in the case of Mowrer v. Department of Transportation, the CDL holders were forced to seek justice in the court system a second time.
“Klint Mowrer and Fred Weaver are commercial truck drivers who received citations for violating state vehicle-safety laws. Mowrer received a citation because his “rear drag link” had too much “play by hand pressure,” and Weaver received a citation for failing to obey a “direction to be weighed,” a filing before the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reportedly stated. “State officials reported these citations to the Administration for inclusion in the MCMIS. After state courts dismissed misdemeanor charges arising from the citations, the drivers asked the Administration to remove them from the MCMIS. The Administration forwarded the requests to the relevant state agencies, which declined to remove the citations.”
Mowrer and Weaver were reportedly placed in the untenable position of either complying with prospective employers’ request to release the MCMIS file or appear as if they had something to hide. They opted to waive their right to privacy and explain the violations were dismissed. Both men agree that the MCMIS information weighed against them, and they suffered financial harm.
Lending further credence to their position, the FMCSA remains under the jurisdiction of the Federal Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Both reporting outfits have a direct influence on the hiring process in the real world. Unfortunately, U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Gregory G. Katsas could not see the trucking industry forest through the trees.
“In our view, the government is not a ‘consumer reporting agency’ in its administration of the MCMIS and the PSP. For the sake of argument, we may assume that driver-safety records are “consumer reports” within the meaning of FCRA,” judge Katsas reportedly wrote in the decision. “But while the SAFE Transportation Act requires the Administration to make such records available to prospective employers, the Administration neither assembles nor evaluates the records for that purpose.”
It’s abundantly clear that the D.C. judge errs on serval fronts. Consumer reporting organizations such as credit bureaus also do not necessarily “evaluate” information to render an opinion. They crunch hard numbers and provide a FICO score based on proven math. The FMCSA approach has no discernable difference, with one exception. Everyday people can contact a credit bureau and have mistakes corrected and false information removed. Mowrer and Weaver had their day in court, and the alleged violations were dismissed. Fundamental fairness dictates they should not keep paying the unjust penalty of being denied employment.