Thursday, September 8, 2011

Women Truckers and Sexual Harassment in the Trucking Industry

Women considering becoming commercial truck drivers often ask if there is sexual harassment in the trucking industry. The short answer is yes. However, sexual harassment is present in most industries. The trucking industry is unique in that it is primarily a male dominated industry. Women drivers are a minority in the trucking industry although their numbers are increasing. Currently, approximately five percent of the CDL drivers in the United States are women.

Women are more vulnerable to sexual harassment than their male counterparts. Women truckers may encounter situations at truckstop lounges, restaurants or other public places which make them uncomfortable. This may be simply other drivers talking loud, making jokes of a sexual nature or other inappropriate comments to female drivers. Even if you carry yourself in a professional manner you may still encounter situations like these as some point in your career. These types of situations in public places may not change. However, women can simply leave these areas upon the completion of their business.


The more serious concern is the possibility of sexual harassment in the workplace. New female drivers when initially hired by a trucking company are often paired with male trainers as there are not enough female trainers available. These drivers will be together 24 hours per day for possibly two consecutive weeks or longer. If the trainer makes inappropriate comments or suggestions to the female driver this will be at the very least an uncomfortable situation for the female.

Sexual harassment can be in different forms, but the conduct of the harasser must be either severe or it must be pervasive to be considered sexual harassment. Someone simply asking another for a date is not sexual harassment. Types of unwanted behavior considered sexual harassment include:

Verbal which can include repeatedly asking someone for a date who is not interested. It can also include making inappropriate jokes or sexual comments or about a person's body, requesting sexual favors, making cat calls, talking about sexual fantasies, etc.

Physical which can be any unwelcome, inappropriate touching of a person's body. This includes activities such as unwanted kissing, hugging, touching a person's intimate areas or impeding or blocking a person's movement, Assault, sexual battery or rape are criminal offenses.

Nonverbal which can can be looking up and down a person's body, a leer with indecent overtone, making facial expressions of a sexual nature, or desire noted by hands, lips, body, etc.

To protect yourself, clearly say "NO" to any offensive behavior. Also write down and report any incidents to your superiors so that appropriate action can be taken against the perpetrator. Trucking companies actively seek out female workers and want to retain them. Employers value their workers and are required by law to provide safe working conditions for them.