I was employed as a professional driver for JB Hunt Transport, Inc., Lowell, AR. JB Hunt terminated my employment in mid-2005 for a company policy violation. The particular JB Hunt company policy I was accused of violating is related to public motorist complaints.
JB Hunt maintains semi-trailers that have an 800 telephone number imprinted on the rear doors of their semi-trailers. Public motorists routinely use this 800 number to call JB Hunt corporate safety personnel to complain about the driving habits of JB Hunt CMV drivers. It is a JB Hunt company policy that CMV drivers that receive five public motorist complaints in a 12-month period have their employment terminated.
However, JB Hunt does not officially notify or document to CMV drivers this particular company policy at company sponsored driver orientation (or, apparently, until the CMV driver has accumulated four public motorist complaints). In addition, the JB Hunt Driver Manual issued to new drivers during company sponsored driver orientation, likewise, does not mention their public motorist complaint termination policy.
On the other hand, JB Hunt notifies and trains their management personnel regarding the public motorist complaint policy during their company sponsored job orientation (according to communications from Ms. Susan Dietz, Director of Compliance for JB Hunt). On May 18, 2005, JB Hunt invoked this undocumented and unwritten public motorist complaint company policy and terminated my 9-month long employment as a professional CMV driver.
The JB Hunt company policy regarding public motorist complaints is also disparately applied to their CMV driver employees. Some JB Hunt CMV drivers are never disciplined or terminated regarding the policy. Other JB Hunt CMV drivers are notified that they have received five public motorist complaints but are not terminated. Last, some JB Hunt CMV drivers are terminated after receiving five public motorist complaints in a 12-month period.
It is my personal belief that JB Hunt uses this undocumented and unwritten company policy to discriminate against and to sanction CMV drivers that complain to management or refuse to drive a CMV due to driver pay issues, low weekly mile load assignments, excessive unpaid loading/unloading wait times, general load conditions, delivery schedules and general CMV safety and equipment deficiency issues.
In my case, two specific CMV safety and equipment related complaints to JB Hunt corporate personnel proceeded my termination. These events are summarized below.
1) In the first case, during early February 2005, my JB Hunt fleet manager ordered that I drive a fully loaded (in excess of 40,000 pounds) JB Hunt CMV semi-trailer unit for 700 miles in mountainous terrain that lacked a rear mud flap and was deficient regarding the required annual Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) semi-trailer safety and equipment inspection (the trailer inspection documentation present on the trailer at the time showed that no required annual inspection had been conducted on the trailer unit for the past two-and-one-half years).
Clearly, the operation of a CMV in such a condition would have violated FMCSA safety and equipment regulations, however, the operation of such a CMV would have also violated numerous state and local motor vehicle laws, regulations, rules and/or ordinances (the ordered trip involved transporting the semi-trailer within four state jurisdictions and numerous local jurisdictions).
Subsequent to this refusal-to-drive event, I met with JB Hunt corporate safety and operation managers in Lowell, Arkansas during early March 2005. During the meeting, I provided these supervisors with photographic evidence of the on-board-computer messages between me and my fleet manager regarding my refusal-to-drive a CMV during early February 2005.
These photographs indicated direct evidence that the fleet manager had ordered that I drive a CMV illegally, unsafely and contrary to JB Hunt company policy. The photographs also provided evidence that I had refused the order to drive the CMV without the proper repairs and required trailer inspection being completed. During the meeting, I also suggested that JB Hunt safety and operations management personnel further investigate the matter to discover the reason or reasons why this particular fleet manager would give me such an unwise and illegal directive.
In addition, I suggested that JB Hunt conduct an internal audit of on-board-computer messages to determine if other company employees had given or were giving similar unwise, unsafe and illegal directives to other JB Hunt CMV drivers.
Finally, I suggested that JB Hunt further train their management personnel in the FMCSA CMV operating regulations and the pertinent state and local laws, regulations, rules and ordinances regarding the correct and safe operation of CMVs. Apparently, JB Hunt safety and operations supervisory personnel took no remediative abatement actions (that I am aware of) to discipline or to investigate the coercive behavior of the particular fleet manager who directed me or to audit the internal on-board-computer records to discern whether such coercive and illegal behavior was more widespread within the JB Hunt corporation.
2) In the case of my second safety complaint to JB Hunt company officials, I refused a JB Hunt night dispatcher's order to drive a CMV because my operation of the CMV would have violated the CMV driver FMCSA hours-of-service regulations (specifically the 14-hour maximum on-dutyrule).
This event occurred during early May 2005. I subsequently notified the particular JB Hunt night dispatcher and corporate safety and operations personnel regarding the night dispatcher's coercive and illegal order that I drive a CMV in violation of the FMCSA hours-of-service regulations.
One week after the second complaint, my employment with JB Hunt was terminated by virtue of a company policy violation (A fifth anonymous public motorist complaint. Apparently, it is JB Hunt unwritten and undocumented company policy to accept anonymous public motorist complaints regarding their public motorist complaint employee termination company policy.).
Subsequent to my termination, JB Hunt reported details of my employment history with JB Hunt to US Investigation Services, Inc. (USIS) of Tulsa, Oklahoma. USIS keeps a variety of information regarding CMV drivers, including: employment history information, commercial driver's license histories, motor vehicle records, social security number, driver's license number, sex of CMV driver, alcohol and drug test results, home address, etc. These compiled USIS records are generally referred to as a CMV driver's DAC report.
USIS accumulates information in DAC reports on transportation industry employees and then sells and distributes the information to interested parties. A CMV driver's DAC report is also overwhelmingly used by the transportation industry businesses to track the employment history and verify the past employment of CMV drivers for pre-screen employment purposes. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) considers USIS to be a consumer reporting agency, therefore, USIS and CMV carriers that use DAC reports are jointly bound by the terms and conditions of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA [15 U.S.C. 1681 et. seq.]) and other consumer related Federal, state and local laws, regulations, rules and ordinances.
The FCRA requires that consumer reporting agencies and those who furnish information for employment purposes gain a consumer's written authorization before they cause a consumer report to be procured and distributed to others (15 U.S.C. 1681 [b]). However, for trucking industry employees and trucking industry job applicants this consumer authorization standard is less strict and consumer report procurement authorization can be given verbally by the trucking industry employees or job applicants.
USIS and JB Hunt did not have my verbal or written authority to furnish and/or accumulate consumer information that caused USIS to produce a DAC report for procurement by others regarding my past employment with JB Hunt.
After my termination by JB Hunt, in May 2005, I applied for employment as a CMV driver with Landaire Transport, Inc. of Greenville, Tennessee and also with Heartland Express, Inc. of Coralville, Iowa. Both of these potential employers accessed my USIS DAC report for pre-employment screening purposes. Both these potential employers turned down my application for employment. According to my telephone conversations with both companies' driver recruiters, my application for employment was turned down based on an adverse employment reference by JB Hunt contained in the work record section of my USIS prepared DAC report. Subsequently, I formally requested that USIS provide me a copy of my DAC report.
When I received a copy of my DAC report from USIS, I found that the report was inaccurate, unfair and untruthful regarding my JB Hunt work record. Specifically, JB Hunt characterized my 9-month work record with their company to be a company policy violation (no other explaining entry). Realistically, a undocumented and unwritten company policy violation may have been the reason for my termination, but my work record with JB Hunt was satisfactory regarding my employment history.
In fact, JB Hunt's own company document prepared at the time of my termination indicated that I was never late on a load call, was never late to a pickup or delivery appointment, was never written up for a service failure, never left a load pending without notifying JB Hunt management, never missed submitting USDOT required driver logs, never made cargo claim due to damage, never had a moving traffic violation, never had a motor vehicle accident, never made a non-designated fuel stop and/or did I ever have a mechanical failure of JB Hunt CMV equipment that was caused by my failure or neglect to properly inspect, repair or maintain their CMV equipment.
After receiving a copy of my DAC report from USIS, I contacted both JB Hunt and USIS regarding the adverse DAC driver work record entry. I formally requested that JB Hunt and USIS change the work record portion of my DAC report to accurately and fairly reflect my satisfactory work record concerning my employment with JB Hunt.
Both companies resisted, refused and negated my repeated attempts to have my JB Hunt employment history information changed. I consider the work record information JB Hunt submitted to Employers Unity to be an adverse and negative entry that raises doubts in potential employer's minds because it indicates generally that I did something substantial wrong related to my actual work related activities at JB Hunt.
In fact, the work record entry made by JB Hunt in my USIS DAC report is implicitly ambiguous, inaccurate and unfair since company policies vary from company to company and a violation of a company policy at one employer may be not be a company policy violation at another employer. Last, derogatory word record information and similar language USIS allows CMV employers to enter into a transportation industry employee's DAC report history is often times so adverse, negative, unfavorable and pervasive that it has become the subject of an on-going current class action lawsuit involving USIS (Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, Inc., et. al. v. USIS Commercial Services, Inc., Class Action No. 04-RB-1384, U.S. District Court, Colorado, September 2004).
This class action lawsuit involves allegations that USIS DAC data is often times unfair, inaccurate and a form of coded language that is used to blackball or blacklist professional CMV drivers within the transportation services employer community.
Since I could not find work as a professional driver by virtue of the adverse JB Hunt work record entry contained in my USIS DAC report, I applied for unemployment benefits through the North Carolina Employment Security Commission (NCESC) in June 2005. Shortly after my application for unemployment benefits, the NCESC sent JB Hunt a notice of the unemployment claim and requested that JB Hunt submit the relevant job separation information. JB Hunt enlisted their unemployment insurance carrier agent Employers Unity, Inc. of Arvada, Colorado (Employers Unity) to help them prepare the job separation information documents and to assist them with the unemployment claim.
During early June 2005, JB Hunt and Employers Unity prepared the job separation information documents and mailed them to the NCESC. Based on the job separation information submitted to the NCESC, I was denied unemployment benefits by the NCESC unemployment benefits adjudicator. On July 28, 2005, the NCESC mailed the determination of the adjudicator to me.
When I received the notice regarding my eligibility for
unemployment benefits, I noted that the NCESC adjudicator had turned down my request for unemployment benefits based on the assertion that I destroyed JB Hunt company property via a major preventable collision on May 17, 2005. Apparently, the major collision was so severe that the cost of damages could not be determined at the time of the preparation of the job separation documents.
On July 29, 2005, I sent a letter to the NCESC requesting an appeals hearing to further adjudicate my eligibility for unemployment benefits. In a separate letter, I also requested copies of the unemployment claim NCESC file documents. During early August 2005, I received the official NCESC records regarding my unemployment claim. When I examined the records, I noted that the job separation information that JB Hunt and Employers Unity submitted to the NCESC only contained the Notice of Claim and Request for Separation Information (NOC) form page and the first page of the attachment referenced on the NOC form page (only the first two pages of the document were initially submitted to the NCESC by JB Hunt and Employers Unity).
The NOC job separation document submitted to the NCESC by JB Hunt and Employers Unity was therefore incomplete and the NCESC adjudicator had apparently made a decision regarding my eligibility for unemployment benefits based on incomplete documentation and inaccurate and extremely adverse job separation information.
During September 2005, I requested that the NCESC obtain the entire NOC job separation information document, including all pages of the attachment referenced on the NOC form and all exhibits referenced in the attachment to the NOC form page. On September 16, 2005, the NCESC responded to my request and sent me the full text of the NOC document. Upon receiving the documents, I found significant errors, false statements and misleading information contained in these documents.
These problem areas are listed below.
1) I was not involved in a major preventable collision on May 17, 2005.
2) I did not destroy JB Hunt company property on May 17, 2005 (or at any other time during my employment with JB Hunt).
3) There were no undetermined costs for damages that resulted from a major preventable collision on May 17, 2005 because I was not involved in a major preventable collision on May 17, 2005.
4) The JB Hunt Driver Manual included as one of the exhibits to the attachment to the NOC job separation document was an older, past version of the driver manual which had been superceded and was not the newer version of the driver manual I was issued at JB Hunt sponsored driver orientation.
5) A portion of the FMCSA regulations cited as an exhibit to the attachment to the NOC job separation information document have been rewritten, incorporated into other regulations and no
longer existed in the form that JB Hunt and Employers Unity had documented to the NCESC (specifically, 49 CFR 392 Subpart E).
6) An Employers Unity Claims Specialist had apparently used JB Hunt company letterhead to hand-write and draft upon a portion of the NOC job separation information attachment document.
I felt wholly disheartened and greatly personally and professionally harmed by the false assertion that I was involved in a major preventable collision on May 17, 2005 that destroyed JB Hunt company property. I believe JB Hunt and Employers Unity intentionally, purposely and knowingly submitted false and misleading information to the NCESC to cause the NCESC adjudicator to deny my unemployment benefits claim. I was initially denied unemployment benefits by the NCESC.
In addition, the attachment to the NOC specifies that JB Hunt and Employers Unity considered my actions regarding the major preventable collision to be blatant (used three times), willful, intentional, irresponsible and knowing.
This type of language is particularly offensive to me since I consider myself to be a driving professional and I have always acted in a proper and professional way with regard to my work.
I appealed the NCESC adjudicator's decision denying my unemployment claim during late 2005. During the appeals hearing testimony, JB Hunt and Employers Unity personnel initiated no verbal discussion of the destruction company property charge leveled against me. In addition, they submitted no additional documents referencing, indicating, asserting or proving that I destroyed JB Hunt company property or that I was ever suspected or accused of destroying JB Hunt company property at any time during my employment with JB Hunt.
Further, JB Hunt and Employers Unity gave no testimony contravening or apology for the false and defamatory destruction of company property charge leveled against me in the NOC job separation information document nor did they indicate a mistake had been made during preparation of the NOC job separation documents originally submitted by them to the NCESC.
In fact, JB Hunt and Employers Unity switch-hit and changed the reason for my dismissal at the NCESC appeals hearing to the original unwritten undocumented company policy violation charge (specifically, violation of the JB Hunt public motorist complaint policy). This fact further leads me to believe the JB Hunt and Employers Unity intentionally, purposely and knowingly submitted defaming, false and misleading information to the NCESC with the express intention of delaying, reducing and/or eliminating my unemployment benefits claim.
Apparently, JB Hunt and Employers Unity personnel are unaware that it is against North Carolina (NC) state law to knowingly misrepresent and/or falsify the facts regarding job separation information documents submitted to the NCESC (NCGS 96-18 [b] and the REDA N.C.G.S. 95-240 through N.C.G.S. 95-245). Also, it is a violation of NC state criminal law for a corporation, it's personnel and/or it's agent to misrepresent of provide false information to injure or defraud a person by making a false entry in any book, report or statement (N.C.G.S. 14-254) or to blacklist a former employee to prevent or attempt to prevent, by word or writing of any kind, such discharged employee from obtaining employment (N.C.G.S. 14-355).
Further, since these materials were sent to the NCESC via USPS mail, I believe that the NOC job separation documents constitute an illegal attempt to defraud me of unemployment benefit monies through use of the USPS mail service. This deceptive act is potentially a Federal crime (USC Title 18, Part I, Chapter 63) and also violates the spirit and letter of Federal law regarding the STAA (49 U.S.C. 31105), the Corporate and Criminal Fraud Accountability Act (Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, 18 U.S.C. 1514 A), the False Claims Act (31 U.S.C. 3730 [h]), the Fair Labor Standards Act (29 U.S.C. 201), the Occupational Health and Safety Act (29 U.S.C. 660 [c]), the Conspiracy to Obstruct Justice Act (42 U.S.C. 1985 ) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. 2000 [e]).
Even though I prevailed at the first unemployment appeals level, JB Hunt and Employers Unity were not satisfied and further appealed the matter to the Commissioners of the NCESC. Subsequently, the NCESC Commissioners determined that the public motorist complaint documents introduced as evidence by JB Hunt and Employers Unity during the first unemployment appeals hearings were a form of double hearsay argument. The Commissions of the NCESC affirmed the NCESC Hearing Officer's original decision that I was legally eligible to receive unemployment benefits. Without a doubt, JB Hunt and Employers Unity colluded and conspired together to unfairly and illegally persuade the NCESC deny my unemployment benefits by first submitting false job separation information.
This unfair and illegal act succeeded and I suffered great emotional and personal distress and upheaval because I did not receive unemployment benefit monies in a timely manner (I could not become employed, I was delayed in receiving unemployment benefits for five months, I could not pay my bills and eventually I lost my home via foreclosure proceedings). Last, JB Hunt and Employers Unity determined through their collusion, conspiracy and defamation to deprive me of the normal and rightful benefits of my past employment with JB Hunt.
Personally, I consider the job separation documents JB Hunt and Employers Unity submitted to the NCESC to be an outright form of post-employment personal and professional character assassination, intimidation and harassment. Further, the false and defaming job separation information NOC documents submitted to the NCESC are currently within the public domain and are now open, therefore, to be accessed by others members of the general public interested in the reason for my termination by JB Hunt (North Carolina General Statutes N.C.G.S. 132-1 and N.C.G.S. 132-1.2 regarding public records and the fact that there is virtually no personal statutory protection afforded to individuals for confidentiality of public domain state documents).
This fact truly puts me at a great personal and professional disadvantage regarding future employment because it portrays me as the type of person that would destroy my employer's company property in a blatant, willful, intentional, irresponsible and knowing way. I consider the job separation NOC information submitted to the NCESC by JB Hunt and Employers Unity to be extremely defamatory and adverse with regard to my personal and professional reputation and character and it is obvious to me that JB Hunt and Employers Unity colluded together to conspire to ruin my personal and professional reputation to such a degree that no employer within or outside of the transportation industry would hire me.
These acts contravene my statutory employee protections under by Federal and North Carolina state law regarding my legal right to collect unemployment benefits and my legal and human right to gain future employment by accurate and fair accounting and reporting of my JB Hunt employment history (STAA [49 U.S.C. 31105] and the REDA [N.C.G.S. 95-240 through N.C.G.S. 95-245]). It is also clear to me that JB Hunt and Employers Unity colluded together to illegally blackball or blacklist me within and outside of the transportation services employment community.
I believe my refusal to drive an unsafe and illegal CMV for JB Hunt and my complaints to JB Hunt corporate safety and operations personnel about the illegal and unsafe orders of fleet managers and dispatchers at JB Hunt directly resulted in my termination. Further, I assert that JB Hunt used their public motorist complaint termination policy as a pretext to validate my termination to eliminate my constructive and well-intentioned input about CMV safety and equipment deficiency issues.
In addition, JB Hunt corporate safety and operations personnel did not investigate, document, act upon, remediate, correct and/or abate the safety complaints and/or coercive behavior of fleet managers and/or dispatchers toward JB Hunt CMV drivers. This is a systemic safety defect at JB Hunt. To my knowledge, JB Hunt has taken no steps to address the corporate culture that led to the illegal directives of my direct supervisors. I definitely believed, and still believe, that these coercive attempts by JB Hunt fleet managers and/or dispatchers to persuade CMV drivers to operate CMVs unsafely and illegally continue to persist and that they present a significant and direct threat to overall public health and safety.
Based on the stated employee protection provisions of the STAA and the REDA, I requested employee protection. I was terminated by my former employer for complaining, documenting and reporting to them coercive and illegal behavior of other company employees. Afterward, my former employer undertook to inaccurately, negatively and falsely report my JB Hunt past employment work record history to USIS. This inaccurate portrayal of my job history caused potential employers to turn down my application for employment. Finally, my former employer and their unemployment insurance carrier deliberately and knowingly undertook to deny me the legal benefits of past employment with JB Hunt by submitting defamatory, false, misleading, misrepresentative and inaccurate information to the NCESC.
Based on the continuing history defamation, intimidation and harassment regarding this matter, JB Hunt, USIS and Employers Unity have shown a pervasive and unquestionable pattern of collusive behavior designed to manufacture and maintain false and inaccurate work history information and distribute it to others. This behavior denies me my rightful entitlement to the terms, conditions, privileges and benefits of my past employment with JB Hunt and is specifically purposed to blackball and/or blacklist me within and outside of the transportation services employment community.
Therefore, I formally and respectfully requested that the US Department of Labor (USDOL) and the North Carolina Department of Labor (NCDOL) further investigate this matter and render a decision regarding the merit of my formal complaint. I also consider my former employer JB Hunt, their unemployment insurance carrier Employers Unity and the consumer reporting agency USIS, be held jointly responsible for their unfair and illegal acts.
Charlotte, North Carolina