Over the last few years, there have been numerous lawsuits challenging the practices used by employers in the trucking industry. Most of these claims stem from the fact that some employers while hiring employees are negligent in making some important decisions. However, a large percentage of these claims are based on discrimination based on one’s race, color, or even gender. While it is of paramount importance that employers carry out a thorough investigation to ensure that the person they are employing as a truck driver is competent, others have been known to profile some people based on their gender or ethnicity. Often, this results in lawsuits from those who feel that the hiring was biased. It is therefore important to ensure that an organization carries out the right employment procedures to ensure that such kinds of lawsuits do not arise. (Usry & Gregory, p. 18)
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While carrying out recruitment and selection of a competent truck driver, the employer needs to carry out a thorough background check on the applicants. The US law dictates that the employer should carry out an investigation dating to the last six months of the applicant’s history in employment. However, some employers decide to skip this step due to time constraints and other expenses that they might want to avoid. If the employee commits an offense that results in a lawsuit, the company might be held liable if it is established that the employee in question had committed that particular offense in previous employment. It is important for an employer to desist from such kind of negligent hiring to avoid lawsuits that might arise from the practice. (Rothenberg, p. 60) While carrying out employment of new employees, many trucking companies go into a great length in ensuring that they do not neglect the past activities of an employee. If such an employee causes injury to a third party, the company might become liable for negligence. Trucking companies should therefore go to a great length to verify the skills of a prospective driver. This is meant to ensure not only the safety of the goods in transit but the safety of other road users as well. On top of examining the activities of a prospective employee, a trucking company has the responsibility of providing employees with a safe working environment that ensures that they are safe. By failing to provide safe working conditions for its drivers, a trucking company might find itself on the wrong side of the law. Although recent developments show that conducting a background check is not mandatory for employers, many trucking companies still conduct it to ensure that they get a driver who will not jeopardize the goods in transit or the lives of other road users. This is especially true at such a time where third parties have the leeway to sue employers if they suffer harm caused by an employee whom they feel the company had not done a background check. (Usry & Gregory, p. 21)
In the past, many employers in the trucking industry hired people not based on merit but on their racial background and gender. This practice was promoted by lack of legislations to fight this vice. Although the issue of racial discrimination in employment has subsided in the past few years, there are trucking companies that still hire people based on their ethnic backgrounds. There have been reports in the media of companies that ask for a person’s birth certificate to act as proof that they suit the employer’s preference. Many states in the US have passed legislations to act against racial profiling. It is important to learn that one’s ethnicity does not act as proof that one is a good or bad driver. Therefore, trucking companies should give an equal opportunity to all people regardless of their ethnic background. This will prevent cases where employers are taken to court for going against the set laws. Instead, employers should only vet employees based on their ability to drive safely. (Usry & Gregory, p. 23)
Many trucking companies in the US have been in the forefront in ensuring that the regulations set for employing driver’s factors in the issue of gender disparity. For a long time now, truck driving has been viewed as a men’s domain. However, this has dramatically changed in the last few years. Today, many truck companies have put in place affirmative action practices to ensure that everyone has a chance of becoming the company’s driver regardless of their gender affiliation. This has seen a rise in the number of women drivers working for trucking companies. With employment opportunities getting scarce by the day, this trend is bound to increase in the coming few years. To American’s, this is a step in the right direction given the rate of unemployment in our country. However, not all companies have taken into consideration the practice of hiring drivers based on gender equality. A number of trucking companies have refused to accept the fact that women can make good drivers just as their male counterparts. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) stipulates that everyone have a right to get employment despite his or her gender, religion, race or even his or her color. This has seen many companies that have not complied with this stipulation being put on the dock for this offence. (Rothenberg, p. 88)
A good example of a company that has found itself on the receiving end for discriminate hiring is Wal-Mart. The company has been forced by court to pay lawsuit settlements totaling to millions of dollars for practicing discriminate hiring. The company had been accused of failing to employ truck drivers who were of black origin. For this act, a U.S. District Judge ordered them to pay the plaintiff’s $17.5 million. The company was also ordered to ensure that it hired more black drivers in the future. According to attorneys presiding over the case, the black drivers totaling to 4500 were denied an opportunity to work for the company between 2001 and 2008. According to the judgment delivered by the judge, the company was also required to employ 23 of the men who had sued the company. The ruling further stipulated that the company take out measures to ensure that the black community was notified of job openings in the company. This was done in a bid to ensure that there was an equal opportunity of employment for people from the ethnic divide.
According to the company’s executives, Wal-Mart would create some jobs tailor made for minority groups. Although the company denied reports that it had practiced unlawful discrimination in its hiring process, it accepted liability citing completion of the case to be in its best interest. Those affected by the recruitment process alleged that the company did not carry out a proper recruitment process. According to the plaintiff’s, Wal-Mart failed to carry out proper advertisements for the vacant jobs instead choosing to do so through word of mouth. This denied them an opportunity to apply for the positions in time or even to apply at all. The company is still faced by a larger case where it is alleged that they were biased in employing women. According to the suit, the company gave lower salaries to women compared to their male counterparts who were in the same positions. The same suit alleges that women were bypassed while giving out promotions in the company.
One woman by the name of Betty Dukes alleges that she worked for the company from 1994 without a pay rise or a promotion. When she complained to the management of this fact, she was rewarded with a pay cut and a demotion. This saw the genesis of a case where aggrieved women who had worked for Wal-Mart went to court challenging the company’s policy for hiring women. The women numbering close to 1 million alleged that Wal-Mart went against the 1964 Civil Rights Act that stipulates that employers should not discriminate employees based on sex, religion or ethnic group. Duke who has sued on behalf of the women alleges that the company pays women less money and consequently promotes them at a lower rate compared to their male counterparts. This is something that the company’s executives have denied alleging that if there are such cases then they are isolated. Duke also alleges that her demotion was because of her being black while her superiors were white.
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With the world undergoing an economic meltdown, it is important for companies to rise up and stop discriminating people based on ethnicity or gender. The current economic condition stipulates that organizations get the best workers that it can lay its hands on. This cannot be achieved in a setting where employers look at a particular race or gender as its pool of employees. Instead, there is a need for employers to look at every angle to get competent employees. History has proved once and again that black Americans can produce men and women who can steer the economy of our country ahead. On the other hand, women can be more competent than their male counterparts in many areas of production. It is therefore important for employers in California and elsewhere in the world to cast their net wide if they are to get competent employees. This will ensure that the economy rises again from its current state. This will also prevent lawsuits arising from such kinds of discrimination (Rothenberg, p. 110).
For a long time, trucking companies have been carrying out recruitment for drivers based on a few guidelines. Most trucking companies in the U.S. have been discriminating people based on gender and race in their employment exercises. This has not only denied many qualified people chances to work for these companies but it has also led to lawsuits in cases where the aggrieved workers decide to pursue the matter in court. This has led to many companies being forced to pay fines amounting to billions of dollars to the aggrieved people. On top of bringing financial constraints for the concerned company, the issue spoils the public relations for the company in question. With the world going through an economic downturn, companies have no choice but to look for employees who will propel their organizations upward regardless of their ethnic or gender affiliations. This will also prevent litigations arising from such kind of discriminations.
- Bartels, Chuck. Wal-Mart in Final Settlement of $17.5M Bias Suit. 2009.
- Industry News. Betty Dukes, Wal-Mart Greeter, Leads Class Action Suit. 2010.
- Rothenberg, Paula. Race, Class, and Gender in the United States: An Integrated Study. Worth Publishers.2006. 55-110. Print.
- Usry, Mark & Mosier, Gregory. “Negligent Hiring: Headaches for the Small Businessperson” Journal of Small Business Management 29.1(1991): 01-25.Print