Q. What is driver harassment in the context of the ELD mandate, and how is it addressed?
A. In the context of the ELD mandate, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) defines harassment as an action a fleet takes toward one its drivers that it knew or should have known would result in the driver violating hours of service (HOS) rules. The FMCSA explicitly prohibits a fleet from harassing a driver in connection of their use of an ELD.
HOS rules prohibit fleets from requiring drivers to drive when their ability or alertness is impaired due to fatigue, illness, or other causes that could compromise the driver’s ability to operate his or her vehicle safely.
To be considered harassment, the action must involve information available to the fleet through an ELD or other technology used in combination with an ELD.
The FMCSA ELD technical specifications address harassment directly, including a provision to include a mute function to ensure that the driver is not interrupted in the truck’s sleeper berth. In addition, ELD specifications only allow limited edits of the ELD record by both the fleet and the driver—and require that the original ELD record can’t be changed and must also be retained. As a result, fleets will be limited in their ability to force drivers to violate HOS rules without leaving an electronic trail that would point to the original and revised records. Required driver certification of any edits or annotations is intended to, in part, protect drives from unilateral changes—a contributing factor to harassment.
A driver may file a written complaint if he or she was subject to harassment.
It is important to note that harassment will be considered in cases of alleged HOS violations, so the penalty for harassment is in addition to the underlying HOS violation. An underlying HOS violation must be found for a harassment penalty to be assessed, according to the FMCSA.