Six members of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association filed a class-action suit against the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration last week under the Federal Privacy Act charging that the agency is unlawfully disseminating reports of driver safety records to potential employers. 

According to the complaint filed in federal court in Boston, Mass., FMCSA is only allowed to report “serious driver-related violations” under its Pre-Employment Screening Program. However, the suit claims the agency is releasing reports that go far beyond its statutory authority.

A PSP record includes a commercial vehicle driver’s five-year crash and three-year inspection history with FMCSA’s Management Information System.

The lawsuit claims that the reports sent out by FMCSA harm the plaintiffs’ earning potential and the ability to the get hired in truck driving jobs.

The plaintiff truck drivers also allege that FMCSA is acting willfully to disparage the safety records of individual drivers and each seeks statutory damages of $1,000. The six plaintiffs will also ask the federal court in Boston to certify a class and award statutory damages to all drivers for whom such reports have been prepared.

According to the complaint, the Secretary of the Department of Transportation is required by statute to determine which violations of federal safety standards constitute a “serious driver-related violation.”  The plaintiffs charge that most of the violations shown on their individual PSP reports have never been identified by the Secretary as “serious driver-related violations,” thus making their disclosure unauthorized.

Jim Johnston, president of OOIDA, praised the lawsuit. “FMCSA’s actions in implementing the PSP program demonstrate their deliberate ineptness and disregard for clear statutory limitations.”

When contacted to comment on the lawsuit, and FMCSA spokesman said “As a matter of agency policy, we do not comment on litigation.”

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association represents the interests of small-business trucking professionals and professional truck drivers and currently has more than 151,000 members.