January 29, 2009

Trucking Firm Settles Discrimination Lawsuit and Agrees to Hire Ombuds

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced that it had settled a major sex discrimination lawsuit against Pitt Ohio Express, a carrier with 2,700 employees headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Under the terms of the settlement, the company will pay $2.43 million and provide other remedial relief to resolve claims of unlawful discrimination against women. Among other steps, Pitt Ohio must designate an in-house Ombuds to informally resolve workplace issues that may arise from women filling driver and dockworker jobs. Unfortunately, the court seems to have avoided consulting any relevant authority in creating the Ombuds program. The consent decree states:
Pitt Ohio will appoint from its human resources department an ombudsperson to resolve informally issues arising from or which result from women entering driver and/or dockworker positions pursuant to the terms of this Decree. To the extent necessary, Pitt Ohio will issue procedures for submission and handling of issues by the ombudsperson. The ombudsperson will not be the person in the human resources department responsible for responding to EEO charges or other EEO compliance.

Hopefully, someone will take the time to learn about how an Ombuds program should be structured before this is implemented. The case is EEOC v. Pitt Ohio Express Inc., N.D. Ohio, No. 06-747 (
Consent Decree; EEOC Announcement; OHS Online.)

Related post: Nike Settles Discrimination Lawsuit, Agrees to Ombuds; Study: Settling Better Than Winning a Lawsuit.


  1. We have seen this problem over and over - Consent Decrees which use the word Ombuds, but offer NO guidance to the organization, site no standards, and make no statements as to intent, effect, and desired outcome.

    Perhaps a course for consent decree writers?
    Or a way for the firms entering into the decree to obtain professional support with the expertise and ability to help them build a quality program?

  2. I agree John, seems to be a real lack of guidance for organizations.