Truck Driver Lawsuit a Winner for Women

Sunday, May 02, 2010
Female trucker

In a legal case that has ramifications for women working in male-dominated jobs, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of a female truck driver who claimed she was fired unfairly because of her gender. 

It took years for Deborah Merritt, an employee of Old Dominion Freight Line, to move out of her position as a long-haul truck driver and into a local pickup-and-delivery position. During the civil trial, Merritt testified that Old Dominion supervisors told her she could not have the new job because they weren’t for women and that the company was afraid she would get hurt performing the duties required.
Eventually, though, Merritt landed a pickup and delivery job—and was subjected to a 90-day probationary period, which male drivers did not have to endure. She passed her probation and worked for two years without incident. Then, in September 2004, Merritt suffered an ankle injury, and when she tried to reclaim her job, the company forced her to pass a series of physical ability tests. She struggled with some of them, resulting in Old Dominion terminating her employment.
The Fourth Circuit reversed a lower court ruling that found in favor of the trucking company. The appellate ruling stated: “Old Dominion terminated a good employee who, pre-injury, performed her job ably and without complaint and who, post-injury was both willing and able to report to this same job for work. These facts, if believed, would allow a jury to think Old Dominion was simply looking for a reason to get rid of Merritt.” Merritt’s case will now proceed to trial.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Fired Female Trucker Raises Jury Issue (by Kevin P. McGowan, BNA Daily Labor Report)
Deborah Merritt v. Old Dominion Freight Line (Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals) (pdf)


Marge Bailey 13 years ago
To the readers of this blog: [WIT]is very effective in championing women in the trucking industry. Allegations that WIT has ever covered up abuse or encouraged women to become truck drivers without giving them information about the challenges they will face are completely unfounded. The opinion posted above is by a person who fancies herself as the watch dog over women behind the wheel. That is fine as long as she tells the truth which she manages to skew to support her agenda and cause undue hardship on people who are doing everything within their power to help females and males succeed in this industry. Anyone interested in supporting the only official, industry recognised association that is in support of females in trucking should click the link above for more information and how to join. Anyone interested in more information about how to enter the trucking industry and find female friendly employers, go to: WIT is not a recruiting portal but the latter site is a jobs portal specifically geared to women and promotes employers who treat everyone as an equal and makes every effort to make certain their employees are not only well informed but are safe. WIT's founder/CEO has 30+ years in trucking,'s founder/CEO has over 20+ years in trucking. Both women are well respected by both drivers and employers. Desiree Wood at this time has less than 2 years solo driving a truck. Which women are most informed, experienced and knowledgeable? The answer is a no-brainer.
Firecracker 13 years ago
Well I have been a truck Driver for 20 years and I have seen it heard it all. Men don't like the Idea that women can Drive a Truck too. Well men say we should be home takeing care of the kids and doing close and so on well before my Husband Died he was home takeing care of my close he made meals for me and he even had bubble baths made up for me when I came home so like I said I have heard it all.I had been working for this one company and well they Fired me because I Had a death in the Family and they told me I had to bring them a death Cert and cause the person just passed the examiner said he can't have it for me in a week well they let me go for not haveing it and to top it off I was on Work comp and I was also told the State Iam in is a right to work state they can fire me for any thing and to all the new women starting in Trucking don't give up I still enjoy it I had met my new man out on the road he is a great man I had been without my first Husband for 7 years so I am very happy thank you keep up the great job we need more women drivers out here . from Tammy (Firecracker)
kim 13 years ago
Hats off to you young lady..I can't stand the white red neck bull ball hanging truck drivers out here AND THATS ABOUT 80% OF'EM!!..They are a menis to the have 100% no respect for women period!..same goes for the male dominant high ups as well!
TruckerDesiree 13 years ago
I write a blog and have a facebook fanpage called REAL Women Truckers where I post stories like yours to help other women truckers see that we are all fighting battles and must stay up to date with each other. The nature of this job is very isolated and most are not computer literate yet. I see you supplied to links at the bottom of this story for Women in Trucking and LadyTruckDrivers which I found to be more geared to recruiting in my opinion. I was a member of Women in Trucking and they actually spent more effort trying to cover up my story rather than empower me to fight back. I went public with my Student Trucker Story which became the basis of 3 Dan Rather Reports into Trucking. The president of Women in Trucking, Ellen Voie & I will both be appearing in an upcoming Bully in the Workplace documentary in which comments were made by the President/CEO Ellen Voie that in essence say that "... Women who complain about harassment in trucking just want to be part of a lawsuit..." this was in regards to the massive CRST Sex Harasment case which was dismissed on technecalities due to EEOC mishandlings not because the Women were without merit. You can view the video and comment by Ellen Voie and WIT Director Marge Bailey (Owner of: LadyTruckDrivers (recruiting site) & TruckerCupid (dating site) ) on a site I created following the online stalking done to me by WIT and some of their members. Since I have exposed to the non-trucking public my story these organizations have tried to capitalize and benefit and there is nothing I can do to stop this except make it clear that they should not be considered a source of empowerment for other women truckers at this point in time. My number one priority is to get correct information to women truckers who are very disenfranchised and need some way to find other stories of success. I have shared this story of our fan page several times and it has been a real confidence booster for other women truckers. Many of these ladies do not know where to turn and knowing there are success stories like Deborah Merrit helps us see we can fight back. Thank You for covering this story Desiree Wood

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