Federal appeals court sides with driver in CRST sexual harassment case

By Mark Schremmer, Land Line staff writer | 3/29/2017

The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in California overturned a previous ruling, siding with a female truck driver who accused CRST International of retaliating against her after she accused a co-worker of sexual harassment.

Robin Anderson sued CRST and her co-driver, Eric Vegtel, in 2014, claiming that the trucking company failed to reassign her to new routes after she made sexual harassment allegations. Anderson claimed Vegtel took his clothes off, approached her bed, and made references to the size of his penis and the strength of his erections when the two drivers were made to share a hotel room together.

Previously, a district court ruled in CRST’s favor and said that the company took immediate steps to stop the harassment by preventing Vegtel from working with female co-drivers and by attempting to give Anderson new assignments.

However, the federal appeals court ruled on March 24 to reverse the district court’s grant of summary judgment to CRST on Anderson’s claim that alleged a hostile work environment. It also reversed the district court’s decision on Anderson’s allegations of retaliation.

“Anderson presents evidence that CRST never actually investigated her complaint and never informed Vegtel of the fact that he was prohibited from driving with female truck drivers in the future,” the Ninth Circuit court wrote in a seven-page memorandum. ”Moreover, Anderson alleges that CRST failed to reassign her to a new truck or new routes after she and Vegtel were separated. We have held that an employer’s remedy is not effective even though it stops harassment if the remedy targets the victim and puts her in a worse position.”

Anderson was eventually fired by CRST.

“The burden shifts to CRST to state a ‘legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason’ for firing her,” the court wrote. “Although CRST argues that Anderson failed to report to work, Anderson insists that after filing her complaint she never received any work assignments, and there is no evidence to suggest that she was obligated to find her own route assignments from CRST. If Anderson did not abandon her job, then CRST has failed to proffer a non-retaliatory reason for her termination.”

Copyright © OOIDA