Stan Koch & Sons Trucking, a Minnesota-based truckload carrier, has entered into a consent decree with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to settle a sex discrimination suit over the use and outcomes of a physical test given to driver applicants.
The agreement requires the Golden Valley, Minnesota-based trucking company to pay $500,000 over its use of what one legal document referred to as a “physical abilities” test that the EEOC says “discriminiated against women truck drivers because of their sex.”
Koch has approximately 1,000 trucks.
Women who were affected by Koch’s actions will be identified as “aggrieved individuals.” The EEOC will instruct Koch on how the $500,000 will be distributed to the women identified by the agency as “aggrieved.” It also will send a letter to each of them notifying them of the settlement. There are reportedly as many as roughly 80 women who might be identified as an “aggrieved individual.”
Driver positions at Koch also are to be offered to each of the women identified as “aggrieved” as long as they otherwise remain qualified.
(Koch is pronounced “cook.” The company makes clear on its website that it is not a part of the industrial conglomerate of Koch Industries).
At issue in the case was a test called CRT, developed by Cost Reduction Technologies, and the difference between male and female success rates when it was administered.
The EEOC filed suit against Koch in August 2019. In August of this year, a judge in the Federal District Court for Minnesota granted summary judgment in favor of the EEOC, ruling that the federal agency had “established a prima facie case that Koch’s use of the CRT test resulted in a disparate impact upon female applicants for driver positions.”
The CRT test “disproportionately screen(s) out women who are qualified for truck drivers positions at Koch,” the agency said in its statement announcing the settlement. In the original lawsuit from 2019, the EEOC said the CRT test “is an isokinetic apparatus … that purports to measure an individuals’ knee, shoulder and trunk strength, range of motion and endurance.”
Those who failed the test at Koch could not be hired. Koch began administering the test in 2009 for what the company described as “medium-duty” driver positions, which is a Department of Labor classification that includes van and flatbed drivers.
In the EEOC motion for summary judgment in the case, the agency said Koch introduced the test in part to cut down on workers’ compensation claims. But the agency said the truckload carrier could not produce evidence that the test resulted in such a decline.
It also said that three female job seekers who flunked the CRT test, and who were also deposed by the EEOC, ended up behind the wheel at other trucking companies, “worked physically demanding jobs and despite having failed the CRT test did not suffer subsequent injuries of the type the CRT test claims to predict.”
That same EEOC motion for summary judgment cites the findings of the agency’s own labor economist who studied the test and concluded that it “had a disparate impact on women drivers.” The specific numbers: 93.9% of men who took the test passed, while only 52% of women were successful.
In that motion, the EEOC sums up many of its arguments under the heading “Koch’s use of the CRT test served no job-related purpose.” Koch also had no specific need for the test, according to the EEOC motion, given that it “was not experiencing any new or worsening issues, such as higher than industry average workers’ compensation costs or even costs that were higher than typical for Koch.”
In the four years leading up to the adoption of the test, EEOC said, Koch workers only experienced three injuries “of the type the CRT test is intended to prevent.” Total compensation costs for the three: $5,196.60.
When Judge Hildy Bowbeer granted summary judgment in August, she said the EEOC “had established a prima facie case” that the results of the test had a disparate impact on women and also that Koch had “failed to present sufficient evidence … that its use of the CRT test was supported by a business justification.”
The consent decree settling the case also orders that Koch not use any physical ability test in the future “if such use has a disparate impact on female applicants.” It also specifically blocks Koch from using the CRT test. However, the company dropped it approximately 3 years ago.