USF Holland says old cases can’t piggyback on 2015 discrimination claim

December 23, 2020

Mark Schremmer

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In response to a lawsuit claiming that a trucking company’s Mississippi terminal refused to hire qualified female truck drivers for more than 30 years, attorneys for USF Holland asked the court to dismiss all claims that allegedly occurred before April 11, 2015.

USF Holland entered a partial motion to dismiss on Dec. 14 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi.

In October, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit against the Michigan-based trucking company, claiming that Holland has employed “virtually no females as truck drivers” at its Olive Branch location since the terminal opened in 1986.

According to the EEOC’s complaint, Marilyn Hervery applied for one of the terminal’s several open trucking positions in May 2015. In August 2015, Hervery received an interview and was told she needed a forklift certification. The EEOC said Hervery obtained her forklift certification and notified USF Holland that she had done so. However, Holland hired three male applicants instead, including two who were interviewed after Hervery, the complaint said. The EEOC alleges that Hervery was at least as qualified if not more qualified than the male applicants.

USF Holland contends that EEOC’s claims are “patently time-barred” to any period before April 11, 2015, which is 180 days before Hervery filed her complaint with the EEOC.

“EEOC’s complaint seeks relief with respect to a ‘class’ of women alleging discriminatory failures dating back to 1986 – almost 30 years prior to the proper limitations period that started on April 11, 2015,” the motion stated. “Any and all claims involving any such hiring decisions that predate April 11, 2015, are plainly time-barred.”

USF Holland argues that the EEOC can’t use “continuing violation” doctrine because alleged failures to hire are classified as discrete acts.

“The EEOC’s claims in this case allege various failures to hire an untold number of unidentified women,” the motion stated. “Without question, such claims arise out of various discrete acts.”

As part of the complaint, the EEOC said Hervery’s story wasn’t isolated.

“Defendant has employed virtually no females as truck drivers at its Olive Branch location since that location opened in 1986,” the complaint stated. In addition, the EEOC said that during an investigation that Holland was unable to produce any records to indicate that it had hired any females as truck drivers at that location since at least 2005. LL

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Mark Schremmer

Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.