Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn
Six members of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) have filed a class action lawsuit in federal court in Boston, MA against the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) under the Federal Privacy Act, according to a press release from OOIDA. The lawsuit charges that the FMCSA is “unlawfully disseminating reports of driver safety records to potential employers.” The class action complaint is available here.
According to the complaint filed by six OOIDA members, although FMCSA is only allowed to report “serious driver-related violations” under its Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP), the agency is releasing reports that go far beyond its statutory authority. A PSP record includes a commercial vehicle driver’s five-year crash and three-year inspection history with the FMCSA Management Information System.
The Secretary of the Department of Transportation (DOT) is required by statute to determine which violations of federal safety standards constitute a “serious driver-related violation.” The plaintiff truck drivers charge that most violations shown on their PSP reports have never been identified by the Secretary as “serious driver-related violations,” thus making their disclosure unauthorized.
“FMCSA’s actions in implementing the PSP program demonstrate their deliberate ineptness and disregard for clear statutory limitations,” Jim Johnston, President of OOIDA, stated in the press release.
According to the complaint, the Secretary of the Department of Transportation (DOT) is required by statute to determine which violations of federal safety standards constitute a “serious driver-related violation.” The six plaintiffs charge most violations shown on their PSP reports were never identified by the Secretary as “serious driver-related violations.” This makes their disclosure unauthorized.
The lawsuit states that reports sent out by FMCSA harm the earning potential of the six plaintiffs and their ability to the get hired in truck driving jobs. The plaintiffs allege FMCSA is acting willfully to disparage their safety records and each seeks statutory damages of $1,000 and will also ask the federal court in Boston to certify a class and award statutory damages to all drivers harmed by PSP reports.
According to the ‘The Case Against FMCSA’ web page on the OOIDA website, the FMCSA became a separate administration in 2000 with the enactment of the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999. Critics accuse the FMCSA of trying to destroy the small business operator systematically through regulations and guidance, which have appeared to be big carrier and vendor driven.
Established in 1973 and headquartered in the Kansas City, MO area, OOIDA is the only national trade association exclusively representing the interests of small business trucking professionals and professional truck drivers. OOIDA has more than 151,000 members in all 50 states. Truck drivers who feel they were harmed by the FMCSA PSP report should contact OOIDA by emailing [email protected].