Hostile work environment on wheels

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has reinstated charges of a hostile work environment made by female trucker Robin Anderson against CRST International Inc. Anderson had been paired with co-worker Eric Vegtel in December 2012 to January of 2013 as a two-driver team.

Anderson charged that she was harassed by Vegtel in a variety of ways, including being subjected to sexually charged comments and innuendo as well as gestures. Anderson’s breaking point was New Year’s Eve 2012 when the two were forced to share a hotel room after their truck broke down. At that time, the 400-pound Vegtel who claimed to be a karate black belt sat on her bed while completely nude.

Anderson complained to CRST and alleged that the company not only didn’t reprimand Vegtel but also did not assign her any more work. Eventually Anderson was terminated. Anderson subsequently filed a putative class action suit citing hostile working environment, but the case was dismissed in 2014. The 9th Circuit reinstated the case in March 2017 in a 2-1 ruling.

This is not the first time CRST has been in court, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged CRST that it violated Title VII in regards to training 270 women in 2007. This led to a ruling that said it didn’t need to win a case based on its merits to be a prevailing party and award fees. This time may be different however.

If you feel that you work in a hostile workplace, either in a truck or elsewhere, it’s advisable to speak with an attorney with experience in discrimination cases. Everyone deserves a safe workplace free of harassment or discrimination.

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