Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Sellars v. CRST Expedited, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Cedar Rapids Division

July 15, 2019

CATHY SELLARS, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
CRST EXPEDITED, INC., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER ON MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          LEONARD T. STRAND, CHIEF JUDGE

         TABLE OF CONTENTS

         I. INTRODUCTION ........................................................................... 2

         II. BACKGROUND ............................................................................. 2

         III. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARDS .............................................. 3

         IV. RELEVANT FACTS ....................................................................... 5

         A. CRST's Business Model ........................................................... 5

         B. Driver Pay ............................................................................ 7

         C. CRST's Policies Regarding Sexual Harassment and Retaliation ............................................................................ 8

         D. Plaintiffs' Commencement of Employment with CRST ................... 18

         E. Plaintiffs' Allegations Against Other Drivers ............................... 19

         F. Plaintiffs' Separation from CRST ............................................. 35

         V. ANALYSIS ................................................................................. 35

         A. Plaintiffs' Hostile Work Environment Claims .............................. 35

         B. Plaintiffs' Retaliation Claims .................................................. 54

         C. Plaintiffs' Constructive Discharge Claims ................................... 55

         VI. CONCLUSION ............................................................................ 58

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This case is before me on a motion (Doc. No. 216) for summary judgment on plaintiffs' individual claims filed by defendant CRST Expedited, Inc. (CRST). Plaintiffs have filed a response (Doc. No. 239) and CRST has filed a reply (Doc. No. 246). I find that oral argument is unnecessary. See Local Rule 7(c).

         II. BACKGROUND

         On March 30, 2017, I entered an order certifying a hostile work environment class and a retaliation class in this case. See Doc. No. 85. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(c)(4)(A), I also certified the following issues with respect to each class pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(c)(4)(a):

a. As to the Hostile Work Environment Class, whether CRST has any of the following policies, patterns or practices that create or contribute to a hostile work environment:
(1) failing to find their complaints were corroborated without an eyewitness or admission,
(2) failing to discipline drivers after complaints were corroborated and
(3) failure to discipline [driver managers] for failing to promptly respond to sexual harassment complaints and b. As to the Retaliation Class:
(1) Whether CRST has a policy, pattern or practice of retaliating against women complaining of sexual harassment by requiring them to exit the truck except when they are a lead driver or owner-operator.

Id. at 55. I noted that pursuant to Rule 23(c)(1)(C), the order could be altered or amended before final judgment. Id. at 56.

         CRST subsequently moved for summary judgment on the retaliation claim and decertification of the hostile work environment class. See Doc. Nos. 171, 172. I granted both motions on January 15, 2019. See Doc. No. 204. I denied plaintiffs' motion to amend the decertification order; motion to stay, or alternatively amend, the trial scheduling order; and motion to certify final judgment upon the class retaliation claims for appeal. See Doc. No. 233. As such, only plaintiffs' individual claims of hostile work environment, retaliation and constructive discharge under Title VII remain. Those claims are now the subject of CRST's motion for summary judgment.[1] See Doc. No. 2.

         III. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARDS

         Any party may move for summary judgment regarding all or any part of the claims asserted in a case. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Summary judgment is appropriate when “the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).

         A material fact is one that “‘might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law.'” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). Thus, “the substantive law will identify which facts are material.” Id. Facts that are “critical” under the substantive law are material, while facts that are “irrelevant or unnecessary” are not. Id.

         An issue of material fact is genuine if it has a real basis in the record, Hartnagel v. Norman, 953 F.2d 394, 395 (8th Cir. 1992) (citing Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986)), or when “‘a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party' on the question.” Woods v. DaimlerChrysler Corp., 409 F.3d 984, 990 (8th Cir. 2005) (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248). Evidence that only provides “some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts, ” Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586, or evidence that is “merely colorable” or “not significantly probative, ” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-50, does not make an issue of material fact genuine.

         As such, a genuine issue of material fact requires “sufficient evidence supporting the claimed factual dispute” so as to “require a jury or judge to resolve the parties' differing versions of the truth at trial.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248-49. The party moving for entry of summary judgment bears “the initial responsibility of informing the court of the basis for its motion and identifying those portions of the record which show a lack of a genuine issue.” Hartnagel, 953 F.2d at 395 (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323). Once the moving party has met this burden, the nonmoving party must go beyond the pleadings and by depositions, affidavits, or otherwise, designate specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Mosley v. City of Northwoods, 415 F.3d 908, 910 (8th Cir. 2005). The nonmovant must show an alleged issue of fact is genuine and material as it relates to the substantive law. If a party fails to make a sufficient showing of an essential element of a claim or defense with respect to which that party has the burden of proof, then the opposing party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322.

         In determining if a genuine issue of material fact is present, I must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587-88. Further, I must give the nonmoving party the benefit of all reasonable inferences that can be drawn from the facts. Id. However, “because we view the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, we do not weigh the evidence or attempt to determine the credibility of the witnesses.” Kammueller v. Loomis, Fargo & Co., 383 F.3d 779, 784 (8th Cir. 2004). Instead, “the court's function is to determine whether a dispute about a material fact is genuine.” Quick v. Donaldson Co., Inc., 90 F.3d 1372, 1376-77 (8th Cir. 1996).

         IV. RELEVANT FACTS

         The following facts are undisputed unless otherwise noted:

         A. CRST's Business Model

         CRST is a leading long-haul freight transportation company with more than 3, 000 drivers at any one time. See Doc. No. 239-1 at 1. It operates by teaming two drivers per truck so that one driver may rest while the other is driving, thus allowing the truck to continue moving without violating Department of Transportation daily limitations. Id. at 2. Each truck contains a small sleeper berth area behind the front seats containing bunk beds. Doc. No. 247-1 at 2.

         CRST has four terminals, which are located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Riverside, California; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Id. Drivers are subject to the same policies whether on the road or at the terminal. Id. When drivers join CRST, they are trained by “lead drivers, ” or “leads, ” for a designated period of time. Doc. No. 239-1 at 2. Lead drivers are nominated by operations personnel and reviewed by the safety department for placement into a certification class. Doc. No. 247-1 at 11. Lead drivers must pass a lead driver training class. Id. Plaintiffs note there are approximately 25 female lead drivers out of over 500 leads at any given time, but CRST denies this based on lack of factual support.[2]

         Student drivers are not permitted to operate a truck alone without completing over-the-road training with a lead driver. Doc. No. 239-1 at 2. Leads and students are paired up by a student coordinator and a lead driver can request to work with a particular student. Doc. No. 247-1 at 13. The lead driver recommends to the driver manager whether the student should be upgraded to co-driver status. Lead drivers generally work with the same driver manager throughout the lead's training of successive students and no one other than the lead's driver manager is responsible for checking in with students during their over-the-road training. Id. Student drivers are road tested and separately evaluated by a safety department trainer before being upgraded to a co-driver. Doc. No. 239-1 at 3.

         Once designated as a co-driver, the driver may team up with another driver of his or her choosing. Id. Plaintiffs note that this choice is limited to a list of currently available drivers. Thus, for example, if a female driver wishes to pair up with another female driver and one is not currently available, she will be unpaid during the time that she waits. Id. To find a co-driver, CRST may provide a list of potential co-drivers, whom the individual may call to see if the driver is available. Doc. No. 247-1 at 16. Available co-drivers are also posted on bulletin boards at CRST terminals and on CRST's Facebook page. Id. CRST also hosts “meet and greet” sessions at its terminals to encourage drivers to interact and find compatible co-drivers. Id. Drivers will often meet in person before deciding to drive together. Once the driver finds a co-driver, he or she informs her driver manager of the proposed pairing and, if there are no restrictions, [3] the pair can begin driving and earning pay. Id. at 17.

         All driving teams are supervised by a driver manager located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Each driver manager has a fleet of trucks for which he or she is responsible at any given time. Doc. No. 247-1 at 6. Driver managers work on multiple shifts covering the 24-hour day. Id. at 7. The after-hours team size varies depending on the day of the week, load volume and other variables. Id. Drivers and driver managers communicate via phone, email, and CRST's messaging system known as “Qualcomm.” Doc. No. 239-1 at 4. Driver managers are responsible for ensuring that loads are delivered on time. They are evaluated on metrics such as time percentage, overall mileage truck utilization, expenses (cents per mile) and the number of trucks in service. Id. Plaintiffs point out that if CRST buys a bus ticket for a driver who gets off a truck due to a sexual harassment complaint, that expense will be counted against the driver manager's metric. Id. Driver managers are also responsible for driver retention and addressing conflicts amongst team drivers. Id. Plaintiffs add that Human Resources (HR) also plays a role in these tasks as it is responsible for investigating harassment and discrimination complaints by drivers. Id. at 5. CRST admits that if a driver manager fails to meet metrics, it could jeopardize his or her continued employment, adding that it uses a progressive disciplinary system relating to driver manager performance results. Doc. No. 247-1 at 8-9. Driver managers are evaluated on their metrics during their annual performance review. The outcome of this evaluation determines whether they are eligible for a salary increase or bonus. Id. at 9. CRST denies that a driver manager would ever be penalized for stopping a truck due to a Title VII issue. Id.

         B. Driver Pay

         Drivers are paid on a per-mile basis using a “split mileage system.” This means that each driver is paid at his or her personal rate for half of the total miles driven by the truck (regardless of how many miles that driver actually drives). Doc. No. 239-1 at 5. Personal rates vary with the driver's length of experience. The starting rate for a new driver depends on whether the driver has a license and prior experience; a license and no prior experience; or a license obtained through CRST-funded training and no experience. Id. Pay increases are triggered based on the length of service with CRST measured according to calendar dates. As of October 15, 2013, a student driver's pay rate increases one cent per mile following completion of three months of service and provided that he or she has been upgraded to co-driver status. Id. at 5-6.

         The training for a student driver typically lasts 28 days if uninterrupted. Id. at 6. If interrupted, whether due to a sexual harassment complaint or otherwise, there is no economic detriment unless the training extends beyond 90 days.[4] Doc. No. 247-1 at 86. Students sign a contract providing that they will continue working for CRST for a specified period of time after their training to pay CRST back for the value of the training. Doc. No. 239-1 at 10-11. CRST's driver contracts also contain non-competition provisions and CRST has sued other carriers for interfering with its driver employment contracts. Id. at 11.

         Aside from the split mileage system of pay, CRST may provide other compensation in certain circumstances. Id. For instance, a driver may receive “layover pay” if a truck is available from empty time to dispatched pickup for a period of over 48 hours. Id. at 6-7. Drivers may also receive compensation based on truck breakdown or impassable highway conditions. Id. These rates are standard regardless of the driver's experience. Id. at 7.

         C. CRST's Policies Regarding Sexual Harassment and Retaliation

         CRST has a written policy prohibiting sexual harassment and retaliation in the workplace. Doc. No. 239-1 at 7. Plaintiffs deny that this policy is enforced. The policy is contained in the Handbook and Statement of Policy that is distributed to drivers and home office employees, including driver managers. Id. at 8. The policy is also covered in a dedicated session at driver orientation when each driver is provided a stand-alone copy of the policy. Id. The policy states that CRST “prohibits sexual harassment” and states that those who report it “will NOT be subject to ANY form of retaliation.” Id. The policy also sets forth the complaint procedure and reporting responsibilities. CRST's Code of Business Ethics also addresses sexual harassment by requiring immediate reporting “to the appropriate Supervisor or [HR].” Id. The Handbook provides that “[i]f any employee believes he or she is being subjected to verbal or physical harassment, the employee should immediately contact his or her Driver Manager or [HR] to inform them of the situation and to request a new lead driver.” Id. at 8-9. It further provides that “[a]n employee has the right to request a new driver without fear of retaliation. Any employee who reports any act of harassment and/or discrimination will NOT be subject to ANY form of retaliation.” Id. at 9. All drivers sign an acknowledgement that they have received and reviewed the CRST Driver's Handbook and Statement of Policy, including the policies against sexual harassment and retaliation. Id. Drivers must also certify their understanding that employees who complain about harassment will be removed from the harassing situation. The acknowledgment states:

I also understand and agree that if I believe I am being subjected to harassment or discrimination, no matter how severe or pervasive, I will immediately report it to my fleet manager or to the Human Resources Department directly so that I may be removed from the harassing situation and so CRST may conduct a prompt investigation.

Id.

         With regard to reporting harassment, plaintiffs note that if it occurs during business hours a driver can call HR with her complaint, but this line is not staffed 24 hours per day and she will be directed to voicemail if she calls during off hours. Doc. No. 247-1 at 40. CRST notes that there are other means for a driver to report harassment, such as contacting her driver manager by Qualcomm or telephone, the report hotline and after-hours driver managers. Id. at 40-41. With regard to the hotline, a staff member will take notes regarding a victim's complaint, which will be sent electronically to Karen Carlson, Manager of Employee Relations. Id. at 41. The hotline staff member has no authority to take any action on a driver's complaint. Id. at 42.

         CRST contends that when it receives a complaint of sexual harassment, the safety of the complaining driver is its first priority. Plaintiffs deny this and cite affidavits from plaintiffs in which they describe specific instances of harassment and CRST's responses. See Doc. No. 239-1at 9-10. CRST's policy provides that when a dispatcher receives a communication from a driver alleging sexual harassment, it must take immediate steps to ensure the safety of the complainant and advance the investigation into the complaint. Id. at 10. Plaintiffs admit that CRST's written policy provides for this, but denies that it aligns with CRST's pattern or practice and cites documents in which dispatchers failed to immediately separate drivers or escalate the complaint to HR. Id.

         The same goes for the dispatchers' authority to separate employees, arrange necessary accommodations and pay or reimburse for accommodations. While plaintiffs admit that dispatchers have this authority, they deny that dispatchers consistently arrange accommodations and pay or reimburse for these accommodations, alleging that employees many times have to bear these costs. Id. at 11. Plaintiffs also deny that CRST takes steps to separate the drivers quickly and safely. Id. at 11-12 (citing declarations from Fortune and others describing situations in which driver managers asked complainants to stay on the truck after they reported harassment). See also Doc. No. 247-1 at 42-43 (in which plaintiffs cite multiple examples (some involving plaintiffs and some involving other drivers) in which the driver manager asked the complainant to stay on the truck for various reasons (to work things out with her co-driver, to see if anything further happened, to reroute the truck, to be dropped off at the next terminal, to allow time to talk with the co-driver to see what was going on or to finish one last load)).[5]

         CRST agrees that its policy is to remove a woman complaining of sexual harassment off the truck unless she is a lead driver or an owner-operator. Doc. No. 247- 1 at 82. This is CRST's policy regardless of whether the woman complaining of harassment was using the truck before the allegedly harassing co-driver joined her. Id. at 83. The alleged harasser may continue driving depending on the situation. Id.

         When one driver makes a complaint about another driver, CRST instructs its driver managers to remove the complainant from the situation unless the complainant is the lead driver or the owner-operator. Doc. No. 239-1 at 12. Plaintiffs deny that this policy applies regardless of the nature of the complaint, noting that all evidence cited by CRST in support involves complaints of sexual harassment. Id. Plaintiffs admit that all employees receive notice of CRST's policy of removing the complaining party with regard to harassment or discrimination complaints only. Id. at 13.

         CRST has disciplined some driver managers for failing to immediately involve HR upon receiving a complaint of sexual harassment. Plaintiffs note that CRST does not have a practice or policy in place to evaluate how driver managers respond to sexual harassment complaints. Id. at 23. They also contend that CRST produced only three forms demonstrating disciplinary action for a driver manager's failure to timely or properly respond to a complaint of sex discrimination or sexual harassment since October 2016. Id. at 23-24. See also Doc. No. 247-1 at 38-40 (in which plaintiffs discuss three instances in which harassment by a lead driver was corroborated, but the lead driver's certification was not revoked).[6]

         CRST states its primary reason for removing the complainant is based on safety. Plaintiffs deny this, stating it is a legal argument rather than a statement of fact and that their position is that CRST's primary reason for removing complainants is retaliation. Id. at 14. CRST contends there are numerous reasons for removing the complainant from the truck, such as allowing her to seek any necessary resources, including law enforcement, medical attention and mental health care and to remove her from the inherently dangerous and stressful aspects of truck driving during a time when she may be experiencing distress. Id. at 14 -15. It also contends that it gives the complainant the opportunity and resources to gather and transmit any necessary information to HR as part of the investigation. Id. at 16. Plaintiffs deny each of these statements as either argumentative or unsupported by the evidence cited. Id. at 14-17. They admit that when the complainant is a student or a driver who has been harassed by an owner-operator, removing the complainant complies with licensing and truck ownership rules. However, they deny that differences in pay between the complainant who has to get off the truck with no pay and the lead driver or owner-operator who gets to continue driving and earning money complies with any licensing or truck ownership rules. Id. at 18-19. Plaintiffs acknowledge that in some, but not all, instances CRST takes steps to pair the complainant with a new co-driver at a later date.

         On July 1, 2015, CRST promulgated a new Layover Pay Policy specific to individuals who complain of harassment or discrimination. Id. at 19. CRST denies that this policy was related in any way to plaintiffs' lawsuit. Doc. No. 247-1 at 82. Plaintiffs deny that this policy was actually implemented on that date. Doc. No. 239-1 at 19-20. They state that as of July 2016, the policy was still not included in the Handbook, was still in “draft[] form” and has not been produced in any format in this case. Doc. No. 247-1 at 82-83. CRST states that it is an HR practice that is not intended for inclusion in the Handbook. Id. In any event, the policy provides that when a complaint of harassment or discrimination is made, the complainant will be removed from the truck unless such removal would leave the truck without a qualified driver. Doc. No. 239-1 at 20. Plaintiffs deny that the complainant is provided with sufficient funds for lodging and transportation, which she does not have to pay back, stating that drivers have had to bear their own lodging and transportation costs at times, especially before July 2015 when CRST did not cover any lodging or transportation costs.[7] Id. at 21. CRST will then pay HR layover pay starting on the date that the employee is removed from the truck and ending on the date the employee is paired with a new co-driver. Plaintiffs deny this, noting that prior to July 1, 2015, there was no layover pay and that even after July 1, 2015, the layover pay ended on the date the employee was offered a re-pairing, not the date that the employee actually paired up with a new co-driver. Id. at 21-22.

         CRST calculates its HR layover pay based on the highest minimum wage in the country, which it then multiplies by 10 hours per day. Id. at 22. It initially paid $100 per day and now pays $110 per day. Id. Prior to July 2015, CRST states that a complainant would have been eligible to receive the standard layover pay of $40 per day if the delay between re-pairing lasted over 48 hours. Plaintiffs deny this stating that the written policy for the standard layover pay (“[t]he truck must be available from empty time to dispatched pickup time no less than 48 hours to qualify for 1 layover”) excludes the situation in which a driver is removed from the truck. Id. at 22-23.

         When HR receives a complaint of sex discrimination or sexual harassment, it enters it into its “Positive Work Environment Employee Relations” spreadsheet and commences an investigation. Plaintiffs dispute that CRST immediately commences an investigation for lack of support. The HR investigator will examine whether there are any prior complaints against the accused driver, [8] consider any relevant documents or communications, interview any available witnesses, [9] interview the individual accused of harassment and take into account any admissions by the accused driver. The investigator[10] will eventually determine whether the complaint can be corroborated. The parties disagree on what is necessary for CRST to find that a complaint is corroborated. CRST maintains that corroboration can be from a variety of resources and the test is whether HR is “able to identify that the action was confirmed and that it took place.” Id. at 28. Plaintiffs cite Carlson's testimony, in which she stated that a complaint could not be corroborated without eyewitness testimony or an admission from the accused harasser. Id.

         CRST denies that this is its policy or that it has ever had such a policy. Id. at 29. CRST states that it may find corroboration based on statements from the accused and accuser, witnesses, pictures or messages. See also Doc. No. 247-1 at 33-34. Plaintiffs cite evidence in which an accused driver admitted to touching Lopez and making an inappropriate comment, stating that it was a “joke, ” and Carlson conceded his conduct would be a violation of the sexual harassment policy. The investigation form for that incident does not reflect a finding of corroboration or that the accused driver was disciplined. Doc. No. 239-1 at 29.

         CRST states that even when a complaint is not deemed corroborated, it nonetheless takes remedial measures by changing the accused male driver's status to “male only” and is never reassigned to drive with the accuser. Plaintiffs disagree this is a remedial measure, stating that it is not disciplinary, [11] does not reduce the driver's pay and is not considered a disciplinary warning. Plaintiffs also cite evidence in which Carlson admitted that she changed an alleged harasser's status to “male only” to provide him “a measure of protection from a similar claim arising in the future.” Id. at 30. The “male only” designation lasts indefinitely, can be removed only by HR and produces an error message in the driver database if anyone attempts an impermissible pairing. The accused driver will also receive a copy of CRST's policy prohibiting harassment via certified mail. Id. at 30-31. This action is not disciplinary in any way and the policy is also sent to the accuser. Id. Plaintiffs state that it is CRST's “standard response” to complaints of sexual harassment to designate the accused driver to “male only.” Id. at 34. CRST disagrees that the cited material refers to CRST's “standard response, ” but affirmatively states that if there is a complaint of sexual harassment of discriminatory behavior by a female against a male, the accused male driver will be changed to a “male only” team preference and never reassigned to drive with the accuser. Id.

         CRST states that if a complaint is corroborated, the accused driver will face disciplinary action up to and including termination. Doc. No. 239-1 at 31. Plaintiffs dispute this stating that even if this is CRST's written policy, it is not enforced. See also Doc. No. 247-1 at 38. They cite six examples of complaints from female drivers (none plaintiffs) that were corroborated but discipline was not imposed on the accused driver. Doc. No. 239-1 at 32-33. HR does not impose the discipline but recommends a course of action to the respective driver manager. Doc. No. 239-1. at 33. Plaintiffs deny that it is a “recommendation” from HR, citing deposition testimony from driver managers in which they indicate they do what HR instructs them to do and have no input of their own. However, plaintiffs state in their own statement of facts that the driver manager has authority to decide what discipline should be imposed, subject to being overruled by their supervising operations manager. Doc. No. 247-1 at 35.

         CRST states that discipline may involve verbal warnings, written warnings, counseling sessions with HR or other departments, removal of lead driver certification or termination. Doc. No. 239-1 at 34. Plaintiffs note there is not factual support that counseling sessions have ever taken place outside of Positive Work Environment training, which takes one to three hours and has no actual disciplinary impact (as it does not impact a driver's pay, is not a suspension or a written warning). Id. Carlson testified that “any corroborated harassment . . . of a Title VII nature” will result in termination. Doc. No. 247-1 at 36. However, she noted that some circumstances may not amount to true sexual harassment or discrimination under Title VII guidelines. Id. Plaintiffs bring up instances in which HR found the complaint was corroborated, but the driver was not terminated or his lead certification revoked. Id. at 36-39. CRST objects to this evidence as containing inadmissible hearsay (in the form of complaints by drivers recorded by HR investigators) and immaterial to the issues as they do not involve complaints by plaintiffs. Id. at 36-39.

         Plaintiffs state that CRST has been aware of allegations of sexual harassment from its female drivers for years. Id. at 21. They cite lawsuits filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against CRST, including one in which 270 women were identified as having been sexually harassed while working at CRST. Id. at 22. CRST denies that any of these prior lawsuits are material to the issues in this case. Id. Plaintiffs also state that beginning in December 2013, CRST had logged over 60 complaints of sexual harassment in the preceding 14-month period, beginning in October 2012.[12] Id. at 23.

         Plaintiffs state that in late 2013 or early 2014, Carlson suggested installing cameras on CRST trucks during a meeting with CRST's President and its Director of HR.[13] Id. at 28. She received a “neutral response” to the suggestion. Id. Around August 2014, CRST created a contest in which employees could submit ideas relating to “how to make the environment great for the drivers.” Id. at 29. Carlson again suggested installing cameras on team trucks. She stated, “So many of my investigations including those such as physical altercations, inappropriate verbal comments, throwing the Qualcomm, sexual misconduct, etc. are hearsay and there are no witnesses. I feel that a camera on each truck would mitigate the possibility of misconduct.” Id. She received no substantive response to this suggestion. Id. She also suggested mandatory time on the truck for each driver manager to “see what life on a truck is like, ” noting that drivers would routinely say that driver managers had no idea what it was like on the road and she agreed. Id. Carlson also recommended an “undercover boss” program to monitor the performance of lead drivers because she received the most complaints about them. Id. at 30. She also felt there should be further training for lead drivers and that the criteria for promoting a driver to lead was insufficient. Id. at 30-31.

         In 2016, HR discussed a potential change in policy to terminate or otherwise suspend CRST managers who failed to report complaints of sexual harassment. Plaintiffs contend CRST has not produced any records of policy changes with respect to disciplining managers who fail to report complaints. CRST admits that no policy change occurred with respect to discipline of managers, noting its policy already provides that managers may be terminated for failing to report complaints. Id. at 31.

         D. Plaintiffs' Commencement of Employment with CRST

         Cathy Sellars attended CRST's new driver orientation in Riverside, California, in December 2013. She signed the acknowledgment of the anti-harassment policy on December 11, 2013, and acknowledged receiving the driver handbook on December 16, 2013. Doc. No. 239-1 at 34-35.

         Leslie Fortune attended new driver orientation in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in October 2013. She signed the acknowledgment of the anti-harassment policy on October 14, 2013, and acknowledged receiving the driver handbook that same day.

         Claudia Lopez attended trucking school at Hawkeye Community College in Waterloo, Iowa. After graduation, she attended CRST's new driver orientation in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in May 2014. Id. at 35. She signed the anti-harassment policy acknowledgment and acknowledged receiving the driver handbook on May 8, 2014. Id. at 35-36. CRST asked Lopez to repeat Positive Work Environment training after she was accused of sexual harassment. Lopez argues this was a false accusation by an individual who caused Lopez to feel threatened herself. Id. at 36. On May 13, 2014, a CRST shuttle driver made a complaint against Lopez stating that she threated to claim he tried to rape her if he did not take her where she wanted to go. Lopez states she felt threatened by the shuttle driver and told him she would scream that he tried to rape her if he tried to do anything other than take her to the CVS store where she was permitted to go get medicine. Id. Lopez told HR that she was joking about the incident because “after being sexually harassed previously while undergoing CRST training, she was nervous, defensive, and still felt threatened for her safety.” Id. at 36-37. She was counseled about the incident and received retraining on CRST's policies. Id. at 37.

         Sellars was paired with a female lead driver to complete her training but stopped due to an alleged injury that was the subject of a workers' compensation claim. Id. Sellars states she was injured during a sexual assault by a previous CRST trainer, Dwain Monroe, and that this injury was the cause of her receiving workers' compensation and hospital treatment, which prolonged her training. She denies that she was paired with a female lead driver to complete training but did not do so due to her injury. Id.

         Fortune completed her training with Lydell Wilkerson. She states that she was paired with him after she complained about being sexually harassed by her previous trainer, James Woods, and upon getting off Woods' truck, had to drive from Iowa to California and then take a bus from California to Arizona to meet with Wilkerson. Id. at 37-38.

         Lopez completed training with the first driver with whom she was paired.

         E. Plaintiffs' Allegations Against Other Drivers

         1. Sellars and Lydell Wilkerson

         Sellars drove for CRST from December 2013 to March 2014. Prior to Sellars' December 2013 allegations, Fortune drove with lead driver Wilkerson and had a good driving experience. Id. at 38. On Sellars' first day at the Riverside Terminal in December 2013 she alleges that Wilkerson stared at her, made offensive remarks to her and forcefully grabbed her while demanding to know why she would not sleep with him. Id. Sellars left the room when he first made these offensive remarks, but she alleges that he approached her again and told her he wanted to “go down on [her]” and “eat [her].” Id. Sellars reported Wilkerson's conduct to the front desk. In a separate incident, Wilkerson allegedly began staring at Sellars while she was talking to another person. Sellars asked what he wanted and he came and stood directly behind her. She then told him she was showing another driver photos of ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.