CHICAGO (CN) – A federal judge refused to certify a class of black truck drivers who claim they get less profitable routes because of their race.
Lead plaintiff Steve Bluford claimed that Swift Transportation fired him in 2009 after two years on the job because he is black.
The truck driver filed a discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission one week after his firing from Swift, which claims to be the largest trucking company in the world with more than 16,000 trucks, 40 facilities in the U.S. and Mexico, and $3.4 billion in revenues.
Though Bluford’s EEOC charge did not include classwide allegations, he claimed that “the managers showed favoritism towards the drivers of non color by assigning them the better routes and more profitable deliveries compared to the assignments that their counterparts would get. They would also be assigned the trucks that were in better operating conditions to these same persons.”
Bluford filed a class action against the trucking giant for race discrimination after his EEOC charge failed.
The federal complaint alleged that Bluford’s fleet manager, Donovan Rood, treated black employees differently than white employees, once stating, “I am sick of babysitting these [expletive] monkeys.”
As a result of Rood’s discrimination, Bluford said black employees received less lucrative routes, assignments and promotions. Rood’s actions were especially injurious because truckers are paid based on the distance of a route and the time of day it is driven, according to the complaint.
Last week, U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall dismissed Bluford’s class allegations, agreeing with Swift that “a Title VII plaintiff can only bring those claims in his complaint in federal court that were included in his original EEOC charge.”
“Bluford’s EEOC charge does not include any allegations of class-wide discrimination,” Kendall wrote. “Bluford’s charge states only that ‘I have been harassed on numerous occasions by Donavon and by younger employees who work there. Also, because I gross more pay than them; they have Retaliated against me. I believe that I have been discriminated against on the basis of my Race, Black and Retaliated against…’ (emphasis supplied).”
“All of the language in the charge specifically references Bluford as an individual and his treatment by Swift as an individual,” Kendall added.
“Because the original charge contains no reference to any class-wide allegations, the amendment may not introduce those charges for the first time and expand the scope of the allegations in the charge.”
The judge did uphold the individual discrimination claims over Bluford’s allegedly less desirable assignments, termination and mistreatment.