The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, OOIDA, filed a complaint with the U.S District Court for the District of Columbia against the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, FMCSA with regard to its Pre-Employment Screening Program and the DataQ appeal process.
The suit alleges that FMCSA releases records of alleged safety violations to potential employers before drivers have had their day in court and that it refuses to drop references to such violations even after drivers have been exonerated in court. The data stored in the safety records database is also used by the Compliance Safety Accountability enforcement program, known as CSA.
Three plaintiffs named in the lawsuit were cited for alleged violations during the course of routine inspections. All three drivers challenged the citations in court and were either acquitted of the violations or had their cases dismissed.
When they attempted to use FMCSA’s DataQ appeal procedure to have corrections made to their safety records, the FMCSA denied the challenges and refused to make the necessary changes despite the court rulings. The bad data continues to stay in the system, which can have a negative impact on a driver’s ability to be hired or remain employed.
“By refusing to accept the determination by a court, the FMCSA has made state law enforcement agencies the final judge and jury on all citations,” said Jim Johnston, OOIDA president. “This can ultimately threaten business opportunities and income,” he added.
When a DataQ challenge is submitted by a driver to FMCSA, it is routed back to the state where the inspection report with the alleged violations originated, which according to the lawsuit is the agency’s way of delegating the responsibility of correct and complete results to the states.
The suit alleges the agency fails to comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act, with the Privacy Act, and with mandates governing agency action contained in the previous highway bill, SAFETEA-LU. The lawsuit asks the court to order FMCSA to purge all data for which there has not been a judicial determination of guilt; purge all reports where a court has dismissed or ruled the driver not guilty; purge all reports that are not “serious driver-related violation(s)”; enjoin the agency from distributing information without any reference to a dispute and a summary of the dispute; and enjoin the agency from distributing false, inaccurate, incomplete or misleading inspection reports.
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