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Sexual Misconduct Impacts Trucking Safety


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Sexual Misconduct in Entry-Level Truck Driver Training has an impact on Highway Safety. Conduct training is the problem. Several high profile sex harassment cases in entry-level driver training carriers like CRST Van Expedited and New Prime, Inc. have proven that the training sector of trucking is failing to teach skills to operate equipment properly to create a qualified truck driver population and failing to teach conduct skills to eliminate sexual misconduct and harassment in their corporate culture. This Best Practices presentation aims to educate the trucking industry and the public on an area that must be addressed and understood in all areas of the supply chain.

Published in: Government & Nonprofit
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  • Truly I wonder when will it change. I was harassed at ConWay Freight & hurt to the point I suffered a brain injury & then they fired me. I have received no workers comp benefits. Even though I was hurt at work by my coworker moving equipment. When is it ever going to matter? In North Dakota its a Huge problem.
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Sexual Misconduct Impacts Trucking Safety

  1. 1. Best Practices SEXUAL MISCONDUCT TRAINING FOR ENTRY LEVEL DRIVER TRAINING “How Sexual Misconduct Impacts Trucking Safety” Presented by Desiree Wood Founder/President REAL Women in Trucking, Inc. 501 (c) 6 Organization
  2. 2. Presenter: Desiree Wood * President and Founder of the REAL Women in Trucking, Inc. a grassroots driver organization dedicated to providing accurate information to entry-level driver candidates and the public about unsafe practices that contribute to turnover. Since 2008, I have been outspoken on the topic of sexual misconduct in entry level driver training, poor training and support practices. I have participated in documentaries on workplace bullying and used my social media presence to speak out on violence against women, human trafficking, sexual harassment, retaliation, rape and a variety of trucking turnover issues that have been widely ignored in the past. Education: * University of Nevada Las Vegas Major – Studied: International Business / Accounting * University of Maryland University College – Graduated: B.S. Management Studies * University of Maryland University College – Studying: M.S. Nonprofit and Association Management * Truck Driver: CDL Class A Commercial Driver with Hazardous Materials and Tanker Endorsement Background: * In 2008, I began sharing my personal entry–level driver training story which became the basis of four Dan Rather Investigative reports on the truck driver training atmosphere and lifestyle, this led to the formation of the REAL Women in Trucking organization. * My social media activity on Twitter as @TruckerDesiree has been recognized internationally. My personal blog and “You Tube” channel has over 3000 subscribers, and 800,00 + views that continue to help newcomers to the industry navigate the obstacles.
  3. 3. Best Practices Webinar Series SEXUAL MISCONDUCT TRAINING FOR ENTRY LEVEL DRIVER TRAINING NO ONE Should have to FEAR for the Personal Safety at their Place of Employment! Harassment in ALL FORMS Contributes to Truck Driver Turnover
  4. 4. *ISSUE  Each year thousands of prospective truck driver candidates become “Entry-Level Driver Trainee’s” at carriers where “Team Driving” is required as a component to become a qualified truck driver. According to some trucking “experts” the turnover in training carriers can be nearly 200% , this is double the industry turnover rate of 100%. These are numbers that signal urgent RED FLAGS Entry-Level Driver Training is Unique Think About It > What other job would require two people who do not know each other to live and work together in an unsupervised atmosphere while operating a potentially lethal piece of equipment? Due to improper training and support from employer carriers some potentially qualified drivers leave driver training due to sexual harassment
  5. 5. Training , Support and Re-Training Are Essential * “We Have A ZERO TOLERANCE POLICY” Currently Sexual Harassment Training at some Trucking Carriers Consists of ONLY the Following Statement:
  6. 6. * “ZERO Tolerance” Policies Are Laughable according to victims of Troop on Troop rape and sexual assault that have filed federal lawsuits against the Department of Defense and specifically names Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Donald Rumsfeld for failing to take reasonable steps to investigate and change the culture where perpetrators where promoted and reassigned while victims were subjected to isolation and retaliation.” Simply stating that “ZERO Tolerance” for sexual harassment IS YOUR policy, means nothing! … Sound Familiar?
  7. 7. *“The key to protecting a company against harassment is good training , including annual re-training. Good documents on the anti-harassment policy, how and who to report it to, and then a good investigation. The company and the managers must send a strong message that sexual misconduct, any form of intimidation and harassment will not be tolerated. By doing this victims will feel comfortable reporting it when it occurs.” ~ Regina McConnell, BSBA from University of Arkansas, 24 years of HR experience both in Production and Supply Chain. PHR Certified * Accountability
  8. 8. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Definition: • Title VII The Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects individuals from employment discrimination and harassment on the basis of:  Race  Color  Religion  Sex (including pregnancy)  National Origin  Age (40 or Older)  Disability or Genetic Information What does this mean? It means that equal opportunity for employment cannot be denied to any person due to their racial group, racial physical features, color of their skin, their marriage, association with someone of a particular race or color, place that they were born, way they speak, their gender , or religious practices. What is Discrimination and Harassment ?
  9. 9. *Extended Protections *Federal and State protections are extended to individuals based on: Gender Marital Status Sexual Orientation Age DisabilityIn a nutshell, we should treat all people with respect. NO ONE has the right to harass, denigrate, retaliate or discriminate against another individual. Anti-discrimination laws also prohibit harassment against individuals in retaliation for filing a discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or lawsuit under these laws; or opposing employment practices that they reasonably believe discriminate against individuals, in violation of these laws.
  10. 10. Harassment  Harassment is unwelcome conduct that is directed towards protected individuals.  Harassment is illegal when the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive.  Offensive conduct may include, but is not limited to, offensive jokes, slurs, epithets or name calling, physical assaults or threats, intimidation, ridicule or mockery, insults or put-downs, offensive objects or pictures, and interference with work performance.  The harasser can be the victim's supervisor, a supervisor in another area, an agent of the employer, a co-worker, or a non-employee. REMEMBER> Even a “Agent” of the employer such as a leased on owner-operator , co-workers like in a student team driving situation, or customers can make the carrier liable for harassment.
  11. 11. Sexual Harassment Facts Sexual harassment or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature is illegal. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that also violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Harassment DOES NOT have to be of a sexual nature however, and can include offensive remarks about a person’s sex. For example: It is illegal to harass a woman by making offensive comments about women in general. Both victim and the harasser can be either a woman or a man, and the victim and harasser can be the same sex. Sexual harassment and misconduct either explicitly or implicitly which affects an individual's employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual's work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment is a violation of Title VII.
  12. 12. * Treating People with RESPECT should be common sense … but as we know … some things must be taught ACCEPTABLE CONDUCT IS A LEARNED SKILL  Training Teaches Conduct Skills  Testing on Training Evaluates Comprehension of the Topic  Annual Re-Training with Testing Refreshes Memory  Conducting Proper Investigations Builds Trust  Commit to implementing a 3rd party report system WITHOUT conflicts of interest  Realize Your Industry is unique because your workforce is absent from supervision  Take Action Immediately when a report of misconduct has been filed. DO NOT DELAY Employers Are Responsible for Misconduct in the Workplace: As an employer and as an agent of your organization it is YOUR duty and the duty of each individual in your workplace to foster a culture of mutual respect rather than an adversarial “hostile” environment where pervasive misconduct occurs that a reasonable person would find the atmosphere to be offensive.
  13. 13. *Hostile, Pervasive and the Reasonable Person Standard A “Hostile” work environment where “Pervasive” (ongoing) misconduct is allowed to occur is your organizational trip plan to arrive at litigation, a loss of productivity and a loss of credibility in the community.  “Hostile” does not have to be angry or violent, “Hostile” can be belittling, insulting, disparaging remarks that make another person feel uncomfortable and inferior.  “Pervasive” means that the occasional inappropriate joke, remark or behavior has been allowed to seep into your corporate culture and has become an ongoing issue. While it may be true that a single insensitive or derogatory remark may not be considered harassment this is not always true for highly offensive words or deeds. Prevention is the Best Tool to Eliminate Harassment in the Workplace.
  14. 14. *Reasonable Person Standard The “reasonable person” standard is applied to determine liability in harassment legal actions. The “reasonable person standard” means that an average person in society who practices an average level of care, skill and judgment in similar circumstances would find the conduct harassing, hostile, pervasive, retaliatory, discriminatory … etc. NOTE: We hold “above average” people to a higher standard, therefore the average person standard is not excessive. * Essentially, remarks and conduct that are not suitable in the company of your parents, grandparents, children, spouse, or religious leadership ARE NOT OKAY for the workplace. * Harassment is occurring when > the offender intentionally OR un-intentionally makes another person feel uncomfortable or intimidated
  15. 15. According to the Department of Labor, Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) an employer has the responsibility to provide a safe workplace. Trucking is ALREADY One of the Top 10 Most Dangerous Jobs Student truckers and trainers are NOT in a safe workplace when sexual misconduct and harassment is occurring between co-drivers in isolated team operations and entry-level driver training phases. * REMEMBER> A workplace bully is someone who undermines projects and progress. Makes covert threats and behaves in a passive-aggressive manner, manipulating those around him OR her.
  16. 16. *The High Price of Harassment *Harassment and Sexual Harassment is expensive to employers in many forms. Even if the conduct goes unreported or does not enter litigation, the price of harassment in any form is highly expensive in the following ways: $Litigation $Decreased Productivity $Stress Related Driver Inattention Negatively Affects Highway Safety $Lowered Morale $Increased Driver Turnover $Loss of Credibility in the Community Recent high profile sexual misconduct reports both in the trucking industry and in other industry sectors where individuals work in an unsupervised environment should be a wake up call that we have a cultural problem that has permeated the workplace and must be addressed.
  17. 17. *The Reality of Isolation with a Harasser  Regardless of litigation risks, productivity suffers when students, trainers and co-driving teams are being subjected to daily harassment inside the cab of the truck where they must cohabitate and operate the CMV.  Isolation that is required from the trucking lifestyle and a lack of action from the carrier when harassment is reported creates driver distraction and stress. It also empowers harassers.  Procrastination by the carrier to remove the parties from a reported situation in order to advance the load or avoid dealing with the situation in any intelligent manner contribute to the creation of a toxic, hostile workplace. Harassment and Sexual Harassment including Rape in some Entry-Level Driver Training Carriers is Due to Poor Conduct Training and Accountability Standards.
  18. 18. *The Truth About Reporting Harassment in a Training Carrier  Incidents of sexual misconduct often occur after hours when only a skeleton crew of poorly trained staff is available to answer phones.  Morale suffers throughout the broad driver population when it becomes common knowledge that reporting victims are at risk for retaliation while harassers are generally reassigned and able to slip back into the driver population, often harassing another individual in the same manner.  Victims are often designated to a solo route with so few miles they eventually quit because they are not making enough money to support themselves. This is called “Starve Out” and well known among drivers, it is a form of retaliation, stress and turnover.
  19. 19. * Know Your Industry Human Resource Professionals: Your job is to protect your company from litigation but you are failing to do this if you are not aware how frequently sexual misconduct and harassment issues contribute to driver turnover. Large carriers that recruit a high volume of student truck drivers and/or utilize the “team business” model to move freight place two people who barely know one another in an isolated, intimate and highly intense living and work environment. Without conduct training and accountability, this is a recipe for disaster that places many lives in a jeopardy. Trucking is a diverse industry. Fleets that utilize day cabs , do not require team driving as a phase of training or that do not over recruit students have fewer issues with sexual misconduct incidents. Awareness of problem carriers though is EVERYONES BUSINESS, know YOUR INDUSTRY and demand accountability by taking these carriers OUT of your supply chain. Consider how the lack of qualified driver candidates is affecting new hiring objectives at your organization. Can your business model help to develop a safer training atmosphere?
  20. 20. Protecting Genders or Discrimination? THINK ABOUT IT> Separating genders during truck driver training in which women must wait a much longer time for training than men is discriminatory. To believe that you are protecting the safety of one gender from sexual misconduct with such a policy is admission that you have knowledge that a problem exists. Therefore, it appears reasonable to assume you may be unwilling to put forth the effort to correct the issue and enforce a policy that supports what is already the law of the land. Besides, Not all harassers are Men or Trainers …. , harassment in entry-level driver training occurs in same gender situations, Women harass Men, Student drivers harassing trainers and co-driving teams in all gender combinations harass. The problem is lack of training
  21. 21. *Training and Enforcement Reduces Costs to Companies  The best defense to stop harassment is prevention to eliminate all forms of harassing behavior from the workplace.  Employers must clearly communicate to employees and any other perceived agents of the employer what harassment means, including sexual harassment and that it will not be tolerated.  Employers must put forth the effort to implement an intelligent educational campaign that demonstrates what behaviors will not be tolerated.  Instruction on sexual harassment training for employees and the establishment of an effective complaint or grievance process must be in place in order to take immediate and appropriate action when an employee complains.
  22. 22. *Recognizing Harassment in Trucking * Most people recognize that harassment occurs when someone openly bullies, threatens or even terrorizes another person. However, harassment isn’t always that evident. In an isolated environment like trucking, where employees and agents of the employer (carrier) are not in a supervised atmosphere it is much harder to identify there is a pervasive problem. * Fleet managers, dispatchers and safety department personnel must understand it takes a great deal of courage to ask for help when there is no immediate way to leave the situation. Therefore, they must realize a breaking point has been met when a person reaches out to them. At this point the carrier must work quickly to separate the individuals. Take Initiative * If an individual is cautious and hesitant during phone calls, ask them questions to understand if there is a problem on the truck that they are uncomfortable talking about with the other person present. If the answer is silence or YES, you have a problem unfolding. * Recognize sudden requests to be routed back to a terminal or motel while under a load. These requests should be taken seriously not ignored. Situations can escalate quickly when a harasser suspects their victim has reported their misconduct. The carrier must be prepared for a barrage of phone calls from the truck’s occupants trying to get help or deter suspicion. This as a indication that the situation is deteriorating quickly. Action must be taken. Harassment, Discrimination, Workplace Bullying and Retaliation are often subtle in nature. REMEMBER> A behavior does not have to be intentional to be considered harassment. Most people don’t consciously harass others but our different perceptions of acceptable conduct and lack of understanding for the feelings of others may contribute to harassment issues in the workplace. Trucking brings people together from all walks of life. Without training for conduct and enforcement of policies the stage is set for misconduct, … and potential litigation.
  23. 23. Highway safety DOES NOT benefit when the truck operated next to them has turned into a hostile moving workplace. Stress related to FEAR of your trainer, trainee or co-driver interferes with the ability to operate a CMV in a responsible manner Learning is impeded when an individual is focused on their personal safety . FEAR of the other occupant of the truck, rather than focusing on the safe operation of the CMV as defined by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is a failure of carrier leadership. *Work Performance and Highway Safety Suffers Fact Check: Harassers can be the victim's supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a perceived authority figure or agent of the company, a co-worker, or a non-employee. What does this mean in trucking? This means that leased on owner operators, co-driving student teams, or “lead seat” teams who are not technically “supervisors” do not exempt your company from being held responsible for discrimination, harassment or sexual harassment litigation.
  24. 24. Victims of Harassment can be: * Women OR Men * Does NOT have to be of the opposite sex * Does NOT have to be the person harassed but could be anyone affected by the offensive conduct. Although the EEOC recommends that the victim should first inform the harasser directly that the conduct is unwelcome and must stop. It is very important to understand that the isolation in trucking often empowers harassers to escalate the behavior. Therefore victims must have 24/7 access to a protected employer reporting mechanism as well as a method to be removed from the truck quickly after reporting the harasser. Poor communication in larger carriers contributes to delays in reporting through proper channels. Just because the carrier CLAIMS they have an intelligent reporting and enforcement system in place, it does not mean that is works. The must be accountability and follow-up Harassers must be held accountable incidents not simply re- introduced to the driver population or re-hired as a trainer to another carrier with a clean slate. Harassers may become more agitated, angry and sometimes violent once they become aware that a report has been made against them. Safe driving practices and work performance may begin to decline. The atmosphere inside the truck can become tense and driving ability can become erratic. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms may arise following an incident. They can last for months and even years. *Who Are the Victims of Harassment?
  25. 25. Male Trainer / Female Student Female Student / Male Trainer Male Student / Female Trainer Female Trainer / Male Student Male Trainer / Male Student Female Trainer / Female Student Male Student / Male Trainer Female Student / Female Trainer Male Co-Driver / Female Co-Driver Female Co-Driver / Male Co-Driver Male Co-Driver / Male Co-Driver Female Co-Driver / Female Co-Driver ITS NOT GENDER SPECIFIC, TRAINING SPECIFIC *Who is the Harasser? Who is the Victim?
  26. 26. *Trucking Specific MIS-CONDUCT Behaviors * Insisting on inappropriate conversation related to sex life rather than safe CMV operation. * Badgering target victim for a relationship and/or sex * Exhibiting volatile behavior when asked to cease misconduct * Screaming/Intimidation tactics that may include tampering with equipment that can cause injury to victim * Withholding bathroom stops, access to showers and food * Locking the victim out of the truck, throwing victims personal items off the truck, leaving them behind. * Denying the victim vital knowledge or access to operate equipment safely: (IE: How to back up the truck, complete paperwork correctly, use electronic communication devices fitted to the truck that would allow the victim to reach fleet operations for help. Harassers berate, scream , threaten and intimidate victims when their sexual advances are rejected in an unsupervised workplace. This hinders learning and creates a toxic hostile rolling workplace.
  27. 27. * Trainer has an expectation that the trucking student will have sex with them during the 35 to 45 days they will be on the truck together alone. Trainer has made a practice of cruising the orientation center for new students to “check them out” before being issued a student. Trucking student is naïve, vulnerable and often unprepared to contact anyone at the carrier except for the dispatcher , fleet manager or safety department with whom the trainer already has a long established relationship. The trucking student and their credibility when reporting an incident holds no value at the carrier. There are barriers or filters to the student to make contact with the Human Resource department . * Student believes that offering sex to the trainer will help guarantee a passing skills test or that sex indicates a relationship with the trainer. Upon ending the training period, bitterness results in sexual harassment accusations when a consensual casual relationship actually occurred. * Student or Trainer believes it is acceptable behavior to get into the bunk with the other occupant of the truck without invitation. Verbal and Sexual harassment including touching while CMV is in operation directed at victim who is driving has been reported which has caused unsafe exit from traffic. * Co-Driving Teams often become reliant on one another , teamwork can be misconstrued as intimacy. This can lead to harassing behavior that may be somewhat unintentional but turns explosive quickly. Violent attacks have occurred following what has been perceived as rejection by a person who believed teamwork was an invitation for intimacy. * Victims report harassers may begin to drive erratically or tamper with equipment for the purpose of intimidation toward the victim once they are confronted to cease the conduct or they have been reported for it. Same Ol’ Situations Since 2008, when I began personally interviewing truck drivers about their experiences with sexual misconduct in trucking, I saw a pattern emerge. Often the same handful of carriers were named and frequently the same themes were recounted by people who had never met one another. Some of the situations became violent occurred while the CMV was in operation.
  28. 28. Do all levels of your leadership understand what sexual harassment is? That it is EVERYONE’s responsibility to change the culture? AND That it is illegal? Include in your annual re-training and testing the following sessions:  What are the types of Sexual Harassment?  Who are the Potential Victims and Harassers?  What are the Effects of Sexual Harassment?  What is Your Company's Sexual Harassment Policy?  What Prevention Programs and Investigative Procedures can be implemented for a workforce in movement? Trucking is unlike other industries BUT YOU ARE STILL RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CONDUCT OF YOUR WORKFORCE! *It’s YOUR Responsibility Educate Executive Leadership, Managers, Dispatchers, and Safety Department on their Role
  29. 29.  What Are Inappropriate Workplace Behaviors?  How Can “WE” Prevent Sexual Harassment at Work?  How do you report offensive conduct without the fear of retaliation? *Educate Employees and Independent Contractors Conduct Training followed by Testing for Comprehension and Annual Re-Training is an Effective Weapon to Eliminate a culture where sexual harassment and discrimination is occurring in the Workplace. Carriers Must Clearly Identify Behaviors that are NOT ACCEPTABLE! And create a reporting and investigation system that works! Anti-Harassment policies are useless when buried in a company manual, not taught, enforced or made to become part of your corporate culture.
  30. 30. “Sexual Misconduct Impacts Trucking Safety” Desiree Wood Founder/President REAL Women in Trucking, Inc. 501 (c) 6 Organization For more information on this topic and other issues affecting entry-level driver training candidates and how you can help become part of the solution, email Desiree at