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Hayes v. Crst Van Expedited, Inc.

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

April 17, 2014

STEPHEN R. HAYES, Plaintiff,
v.
CRST VAN EXPEDITED, INC., CRST INTERNATIONAL, INC., DRIVER HIRING CONNECTION, JOHN DOE OWNERS AND OPERATORS, and JOHN DOE DECISION MAKERS, Defendants.

Latonya N. Bland-Tull, Esq., LAW OFFICES OF RICHARD L. PRESS & ASSOCIATES, LLC, Pleasantville, NJ, Counsel for Plaintiff Stephen R. Hayes.

George W. Wright, Esq., Narinder S. Parmar, Esq., GEORGE W. WRIGHT & ASSOCIATES, LLC, Hackensack, NJ, Counsel for Defendants CRST Van Expedited, Inc. and CRST International, Inc.

OPINION

JOSEPH E. IRENAS, Senior District Judge.

This employment discrimination matter comes before the Court on Defendants CRST Van Expedited, Inc. ("CRST Expedited") and CRST International, Inc.'s motion for summary judgment.[1] For the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant Defendants' motion.

I.

Plaintiff Stephen Hayes is a former HVAC mechanic. In or about August 2009, he completed a commercial driving course at Superior Tractor Trailer Training School ("Superior") in Pleasantville, New Jersey and obtained his Commercial Driver's License.

Around the time of his graduation, Plaintiff applied for a job as a tractor-trailer driver with Defendant CRST Expedited, a subsidiary of Defendant CRST International, Inc. Plaintiff was 71 years-old when he applied. At the time, CRST Expedited was one of the largest long-haul truckload motor carriers in the United States, operating more than 1, 200 company-owned tractors and 3, 000 van trailers, and employed approximately 2, 500 drivers at any given time.

There was a high turnover rate among those 2, 500 drivers: during the period between September 1, 2008 and October 20, 2009, CRST Expedited employed 7, 663 drivers total. (Defs.' Facts ¶ 12)[2] CRST Expedited received approximately 10, 000 applications per month for driver positions and accepted approximately 500 of them. (Defs.' Facts ¶ 13)

In June 2009, approximately two months prior to the submission of Plaintiff's application, CRST Expedited implemented an unwritten policy that precluded hiring applicants who had caused a rear-end, lane-change, or intersection accident within the previous two years. (Defs.' Facts ¶ 22) The policy was implemented and conveyed to CRST employees by managers during meetings and "oral conversations." (Defs.' Facts ¶ 19) The policy was not reduced to writing until June 2010. (Defs.' Facts ¶ 33) CRST Expedited points to several applications it denied in late 2009 because the candidates were involved in prohibited accidents as evidence of the existence of the policy. (See Defs.' Facts ¶ 26-32)

Plaintiff completed and filed his CRST application with Judy Bowman of Defendant Driving Hiring Connection ("Connection"), an independent contractor that recruits drivers on behalf of CRST pursuant to a commission broker agreement.[3] Bowman then filed an application on Plaintiff's behalf online.

In addition to including Plaintiff's age, Bowman identified an April 2008 accident Plaintiff was involved in. Bowman described it as follows:

WAS APPROACHING STOP AND PRESSED ON THE BRAKES AND THE CAR DIDN'T STOP. HE HIT ANOTHER VEHICLE. POSSIBLE MECHANICAL FAILURE. ENCLOSED IS A STATEMENT FROM WHERE THE CAR WAS REPAIRED THAT EXMPLAINS WHAT MAY HAVE HAPPENED.

(Defs.' Facts ¶ 76)

Bowman included with the application a note from a repairman stating, "[c]arbon in the throttle body may cause the throttle to stay engaged." ( Id. at 80) Bowman added the following: "The Policeman put down that his foot slipped off brake onto ...


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