Manager’s insight: When a worker complains about the potentially inappropriate behavior of a colleague, it’s best to investigate the allegations. If you find that the claims have merit, take effective action right away.
What happened: A trucking company hired a woman as a trainee. The plan was for her to accompany another driver on runs until she could pass the commercial driving test.
But the male driver she was paired with sexually assaulted her. On one of their first nights on the road, she awoke to find him grabbing one of her breasts. She complained to managers, but her bosses continued pairing her with him, and he continued harassing her.
What people did: A few months after the woman’s first complaint, the male driver put his hands between her legs while she slept.
She complained again to managers, who decided that she could no longer be paired with him.
But when her bosses couldn’t find another commercial carrier operator to train her, the woman was terminated.
Legal challenge: The woman sued the trucking company, claiming that she was illegally fired for reporting the harassment.
Result: The company lost. The court ruled that the employer retaliated against the woman because she complained.
The skinny: Judges rarely look kindly on employers that don’t investigate and address employee complaints of illegal behavior and then take adverse employment actions against commercial operators for filing legitimate complaints.
Citation: Peterson v. West TN Expediting, Inc., U.S. Court of Appeals 6, No. 20-5845, 4/27/21.
(From the July 19, 2021, issue of Transportation Manager’s Dispatch. To start your no-obligation trial subscription to the publication right now, please click here.)