Court Rules DOT Screening Program Does Not Violate Privacy of Drivers

DOT-Seal

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

A federal appeals court has ruled the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) did not violate the privacy of truck drivers by providing information about their non-serious safety violations to prospective employers, a decision that leaves intact the Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP) established by the DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in 2010.

According to the ruling on October 21, 2016, the FMCSA “is tasked with the maintenance of safety in motor carrier transportation. FMCSA works with individual states to collect motor carrier safety data, including crash reports and safety violations, through roadside inspections. Collected data is stored in a database known as the Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS).”

The PSP – which the federal appeals court stated “was designed to give prospective employers rapid access to crash and inspection data about potential driver employees” – could be accessed for a fee and contains MCMIS information regarding the most recent crash data about drivers from the past five years and the most recent inspection data about drivers from the past three years.

In the case, drivers – who must give consent before any information is disclosed – brought a lawsuit against the FMCSA and DOT arguing the law governing DOT disclosure obligations “unambiguously prohibited the agency from disclosing non-serious driver-related safety violations” and “the potential disclosure to employers of non-serious driver-related safety violations violates the Privacy Act.”

However, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit disagreed and upheld the dismissal of the claims by drivers regarding non-serious violations: “Given that the focus of the database is on the motor carrier industry, by providing information on driver safety records to potential employers, it is hard to see how this goal would be undermined by the disclosure of more information.”

The decision in the case Flock v. U.S. Department of Transportation, BL 351349, No. 15-2310, on October 21, 2016, in the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit is available at http://media.ca1.uscourts.gov/pdf.opinions/15-2310P-01A.pdf. For more information about the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), visit www.transportation.gov.

In May 2010, ESR News reported that the newly launched PSP “sends a strong message to commercial carriers and drivers that we are serious about having the safest drivers behind the wheel of large trucks and buses” and also “raises the safety bar for the motor carrier industry and helps to make our roads safer for everyone,” according to a news release from the DOT and FMCSA.

ESR Provides Employers with Legally Compliant Information about Drivers

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a leading global screening firm – can obtain driving record history of drivers from each state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) subject to the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) and state reporting laws. Information includes license class, citation/accident/suspension history, and current status of  license. To learn more, visit www.esrcheck.com.

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this website is for educational purposes only.

© 2016 Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – Making copies or using of any part of the ESR News Blog or ESR website for any purpose other than your own personal use is prohibited unless written authorization is first obtained from ESR.