EEOC files sex discrimination lawsuit against Prime

| 9/23/2011

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a sex discrimination lawsuit against Springfield, MO-based New Prime Inc., alleging the company uses “unlawful employment practices” when it comes to hiring and training female drivers.

According to the EEOC lawsuit filed on Thursday, Sept. 22, in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, Prime has a “same-sex truck driver trainee assignment policy, which has resulted in delaying or denying training and employment opportunities for female applicants” since approximately January 2004.

EEOC attorney Jan Shelly told Land Line, that Prime’s policy allowed female applicants to be trained by only female trainers unless a female driver could “produce a male trainer with whom she had a prior relationship, such as through marriage, family or affiance.”

Shelly said female applicants were placed on a “waiting list” until a female trainer became available, but that there was no waiting list for male drivers because Prime had plenty of male trainers.

“The problem is that because the policy was based on gender, the effect of the policy was that women who didn’t care about the gender of their trainer – but who wanted and were qualified and needed the job – were unable to go forward with the training. And that’s where the problem came in,” Shelly said.

During the course of the investigation, Shelly said the EEOC has found that female drivers from nearly every state have been affected by Prime’s same-sex training policy.

“The policy has been in place for quite some time and had the effect of delaying or denying female applicants an equal opportunity to secure even the training, much less a position,” Shelly said. “It’s sort of a vicious cycle. Over a period of time there are less women trainers because you are hiring less women, and that perpetuates the problem.”