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Drivers Sue FMCSA Over PSP Reports
3 mins read

A group of drivers has sued the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for violating their rights under the Federal Privacy Act by disseminating driver safety records through the Pre-Employment Screening Program

Six members of the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association filed a lawsuit in Federal court last week, charging that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration had violated their rights by reporting safety record information to potential employers.

The lawsuit takes aim at the Pre-Employment Screening Program, an online service run by FMCSA, that lets motor carriers review applicant safety history and see if there are any serious violations.

The lawsuit seeks court-decided statutory damages for all drivers who were affected and $1,000 in statutory damages for the six plaintiffs.

The Complaint

The complaint hinges on the type of violations that FMCSA is including in the PSP. According to the lawsuit, the agency was only authorized by Congress to include accident reports and “serious driver-related safety violation inspection reports”. The plaintiffs claim that FMCSA is going beyond the scope of this by including other violations as well.

The plaintiffs complain that their PSP reports included entries for violations including failing to wear a seat belt, failing to use warning flashers and log book violations regarding general form and manner as opposed to more serious violations.

It should be noted the PSP reports also included violations for speeding and driving overweight. It is unclear if the incidents are related or separate.

By violating the Congressional mandate, the plaintiffs argue that FMCSA has unreasonably harmed their earning potential.

The Pre-Employment Screening Program

The PSP was first launched back in 2010 as a way for employers to check up on applicants who may have ‘forgotten’ to include parts of the employment history on a resume to hide serious violations.

The service, which is optional, not mandatory, requires the employer to get written permission from the applicant before looking them up. The carrier also needs to register with FMCSA and pay an annual fee to have access to the PSP website portal (www.psp.fmcsa.dot.gov).

Using the PSP does not exempt a carrier from having to perform a standard employee background check as required by 49 CFR Part 391.

Carriers are also prohibited from looking up current employees, they may only review information about applicants.

OOIDA Involvement

OOIDA have joined their members in the fight, although not in the actual lawsuit. An article posted yesterday on the organization’s blog encouraged other drivers who felt harmed by the PSP to contact them.

“FMCSA’s actions in implementing the PSP program demonstrate their deliberate ineptness and disregard for clear statutory limitations,” said OOIDA President Jim Johnston.

We will keep you up to date on the lawsuit as it progresses through the court system.

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