semi-truck

Same-Gender Training Policy

We need your support!

Women In Trucking Association, Inc. (WIT) supports the option for carriers to use the Bona Fide Occupational Exemption when implementing a same-gender training policy.

Currently, a newly hired professional driver is (usually) required to spend time with a trainer to improve (or prove) her or his driving skills before employment is secured. The trainer monitors the trainee’s driving competence and makes recommendations regarding the person’s employability. This period of training could extend from a few days to a few weeks, often requiring the use of the sleeper berth by one or both drivers.

We raise funds for scholarships, evaluate applications, and distribute funds to schools to ensure that women in the trucking industry have the support they need to grow their skills and themselves. In turn, the trucking industry benefits from a diverse and well-trained workforce that has continuous opportunities for development.

The proximity of the sleeper berth and personal quarters creates an atmosphere where privacy is often compromised. In most cases, the driver trainer and trainee are unrelated and often previously unfamiliar with one another. Recent research by Dr. Jennifer Hirsch and Dr. Claude Mellins, in The Sexual Project, found the proximity of a bed encourages sexual encounter in college dorms.

We have not been able to identify ANY other mode of transportation that mixes men and women in areas intended for sleeping or personal activity. In trucking, a carrier is not allowed to use age, ethnicity, gender or other protected classification to segregate drivers. 

The option to adopt a same-gender training policy has been found to be in violation of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) as filed in a lawsuit against New Prime, Inc. in 2011. The EEOC found the carrier violated federal law by discriminating against female truck driver applicants who were placed on a waiting list for female trainers, often resulting in a delay in employment. The court ruled the carrier used discriminatory hiring practices in 2016. 

The EEOC attorney claimed that it was disrespectful to men to assume they will harass women if they work together in close quarters.  What the EEOC failed to understand was that these drivers not only WORKED in close quarters, they were required to SLEEP in close quarters.

We believe that the Bona Fide Occupational Exemption should be an option for carriers who choose to adopt a same-gender training policy. Bona fide occupational qualifications (BFOQ) are employment qualifications that employers are allowed to consider while making decisions about hiring and retention of employees. The qualification should relate to an essential job duty and is considered necessary for operation of the particular business. 

The Bona Fide Occupational Qualifications rule allows for the hiring of individuals based on race, sex, age, and national origin if these characteristics are bona fide occupational qualifications. (www.uslegal.com)

WIT is working with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) on a three year study to determine the prevalence of threats and assaults against minority and female truckers, to identify trends, and to broaden the Agency’s understanding of the safety problem. Please know we are not asking for any regulatory intervention from the FMCSA.  As well as WIT is working with Administrator Martinez and Deputy Administrator Gautreaux, who have asked for documentation of industry support.

In addition, WIT is working with Congressman Michael Gallagher who serves the central Wisconsin region (WIT President/CEO Ellen Voie’s Representative) who has indicated his initial support but has asked for documentation of industry support as well. Our goal is to work toward a legislative solution since the court and EEOC have already determined that a same-gender training policy is a federal violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

For this reason, I am asking for YOUR support in this initiative. If you are willing to include your name and organization in support of the option for motor carriers to adopt a same-gender training policy through the Bona Fide Occupation Exemption, I would appreciate your response.

The mission of Women In Trucking Association includes addressing obstacles that might keep women from entering the industry. We believe in allowing women the opportunity to be trained by another woman if she prefers. Currently, as a carrier, you do not have the freedom to ensure this as an alternative without the intrusion of the federal government.  

If you object to this position, I would be interested in better understanding your objection so we can create a position paper that reflects the industry’s best interests.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Ellen Voie
President/CEO
Women In Trucking Association, Inc.
PO Box 400, Plover WI 54467-0400
ellen@womenintrucking.org
(920) 312-1350

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