- Stan Koch & Sons Trucking violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when it used a strength test that discriminated against women because of their sex, a Minnesota district court ruled recently.
- According to a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the test, developed by Cost Reduction Technologies, "disproportionately screened out women who are qualified for truck driver positions at Koch," the agency said in a press release.
- The company administered the test to applicants who had already received conditional offers for truck driving positions or who were already employed but needed to return to work after an injury.
Employers aren't forbidden from using hiring screens or physical abilities tests, EEOC Chicago District Director Julianne Bowman noted in the agency's press release.
"However, when a hiring screen has a disparate impact on female applicants and employees, like the [Cost Reduction Technologies] test did at Koch, employers need to take a hard look at whether they can prove those tests are job-related and consistent with business necessity," she said.
Several lawmakers and trucking firms have focused on ways to recruit and retain more women, who make up a small fraction of truck drivers. The Promoting Women in Trucking Workforce Act, a bill introduced by a group of bipartisan senators, would create an advisory board within the FMCSA focused on the subject.
"I think there's a huge future for women in trucking," Yellow CEO Darren Hawkins said at the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals' Edge 2021 conference in Atlanta Monday. "I'm telling you, women make great truck drivers ... We're seeing our driving schools running with larger and larger female populations."
A job's requirement of some physical strength will not in itself justify the use of an ability test, Bowman said. The test must pair with the physical requirements of the job, or the employer must be able to demonstrate its ability to predict a particular job outcome.
"This case should serve as a reminder to employers of the importance of having a professionally designed, rigorous study showing a clear relationship between performance on a test and the employer's job," Bowman said.
The court did not weigh in on whether the validity study Bowman referenced is a necessary piece of an employer's argument that a test is job-related. It withheld judgment on the matter because Koch did not supply even "lay testimony" to support its position that the test was job-related.
Stan Koch & Sons Trucking, headquartered in Minneapolis, is family-owned and has more than 1,000 trucks that operate nationally and regionally, according to the EEOC.
Shefali Kapadia contributed to this report.