A rule proposed by the Federal Motor Carrier Administration attacking alleged coercion of truck drivers to act unsafely has drawn widespread criticism from industry groups but is unlikely to see much use by drivers who fear retaliation.
The proposed rule applies to all parties in the supply chain, including shippers, receivers and transportation intermediaries, and seeks to prevent them from placing pressure on drivers to deliver a load or otherwise operate truck in violation of safety regulations.
Under the rule, coercion means a threat to withhold, or the actual withholding of, current or future business, employment or work opportunities from a driver for objecting to an unsafe operation.
Drivers subject to prohibited coercion would be able to file a written complaint of coercion within 60 days of the coercion event. Any person who engages in prohibited coercion would be subject to a civil penalty not to exceed $11,000 per offense.
The proposed rule drew opposition from American Trucking Associations, Nasstrac, the National Industrial Transportation League and the Transportation Intermediaries Association.
While Nasstrac called the proposal “a stunning overreach” of FMCSA’s authority, ATA supported the idea but is concerned about it impinging on relations between fleets and their customers.
The Independent Owner-Operator Drivers Association also is generally supportive of the rule, but said it does not address the common causes of coercion or parties responsible for it who do not have a contractual relationship with the drivers.
Other anti-coercion laws adopted over the years saw few drivers filing complaints for the same reason they are unlikely to do so with this rule. As OOIDA explained: “This proposal puts drivers in a ‘Catch 22’ situation in instances where voicing objections to coercive requests may bring economic retaliation or the termination of a relationship.”