EEOC to Petition 8th Circuit for Rehearing in Trucker Case - U.S. Eighth Circuit
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EEOC to Petition 8th Circuit for Rehearing in Trucker Case

The trucker lawsuit is making its way to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, reports The Washington Post.

On Monday, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission asked the federal appeals court to review a ruling issued by the appeals court in February.

The February decision was a panel decision in which the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals disposed of the class action suit brought by the EEOC on behalf of “approximately 270” women.

The case initially arose when a female trucker, Monika Starke, complained of sexual harassment at the hands of a male colleague. In 2005, while in training, Starke complained of crude sexual comments and even a request to have sex by a male trucker in exchange for a passing grade in the training.

A settlement was not reached and in 2007, the EEOC filed a suit on behalf of several female drivers. Letters were sent out by the EEOC and 150 women came forward, alleging sexual harassment. One woman complained that her trainer asked for oral sex every morning. Another claimed that her trainer put on pornographic videos and made requests on actions he wanted from her.

According to the District Court, the EEOC failed to investigate each claim and as a result, had a “sue first, ask questions later” strategy. In that decision, the EEOC was also ordered to reimburse the trucking company in the amount of $92,842.21 in costs and $4,467,442.90 in attorney fees and expenses.

The 2-1 panel of the Eighth Circuit threw out the fee award and reinstated the suits of two of the women. Nevertheless, the class action was thrown out.

The EEOC is arguing that the standard imposed by the court for class action cases is impracticable. The standard would require the agency to first investigate the merits of each worker’s claim and then attempt to resolve each claim.

The case may be re-heard by a panel or en banc. Alternatively, it could be dismissed. In any event, the outcome of the case will have an impact on business litigation. You can bet that businesses across the Eighth Circuit are watching closely.

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