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Female trucker's retaliation case reinstated on appeal


A federal appeals court has reinstated disparate treatment and retaliation filed by a female truck driver who was laid off, then later not reinstated despite her seniority.

Sandra Connelly was hired as a truck driver at the Pittsburgh facility of Cheshire, Pennsylvania-based Lane Construction Corp. in May 2006, according to Monday’s ruling by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia in Sandra Connelly v. Lane Construction Corp.

Sometime after May 2007, allegedly because she had ended a romance with another worker, her male co-workers began cursing and belittling her, according to the ruling, which added that she also rejected an unwanted physical advance from a foreman.

Ms. Connelly made frequent complaints to Lane’s “ethics line” about her situation. She was laid off in October 2010 after refusing to drive a track that had a flat tire and steering problems, according to the ruling. Subsequently, male drivers with less seniority were recalled before she was, said the ruling.

Ms. Connelly filed suit in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh in September 2013 on charges including gender-based disparate treatment and retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The court dismissed her case, and Ms. Connelly appealed.

A three-judge appeals court panel reinstated the case.

Ms. Connelly’s allegations “raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence that Connelly’s protected status as a woman played either a motivating or determinative factor in Lane’s decision not to rehire her. That is enough for Connelly’s disparate treatment claim to survive a motion to dismiss,” said the panel, which also reinstated her retaliation claim.

The case was remanded for further proceedings.

In 2014, a federal judge ruled that a trucking company violated federal law by discriminating against female truck driver applicants when it required they be trained only by other women.

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