Trucking Group Slaps FMCSA With Lawsuit Alleging “Intentional Discrimination”
Washington D.C. – The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is facing a new lawsuit alleging the Agency is “purposely and intentionally” discriminating against a trucking group.
In a 50-page complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia last week, the Small Business in Transportation Coalition (SBTC) contends the FMCSA is purposely failing to adhere to federal rules regarding multiple exemption applications submitted by the SBTC.
The SBTC’s complaint centers on the allegations the Agency remains in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act (APA).
Per the APA, once an application is filed with the United States Department of Transportation (DOT), “the Secretary shall grant or deny an exemption request… in no case later than 180 days after the filing of such request.”
The FMCSA has failed to render a decision within 180 days on three exemption requests filed by the SBTC dating back as far as February 12, 2019.
Most notably is the SBTC’s petition filed on August 12, 2019, requesting an exemption from the electronic logging devices (ELD) mandate on behalf of independent contractors and carriers with fewer than 50 employees.
Earlier this year, James Lamb, president of the SBTC, told Transportation Nation Network (TNN), the FMCSA is engaged in a pattern of “blatantly ignoring the law” and “unreasonably delaying” the 15,000-member group’s petitions and applications.
“The SBTC and its predecessor group have now filed five exemption applications with FMCSA over the past decade,” Lamb said. “Each and every time, the agency has failed to act in accordance with a Congressional directive to process these applications within 180 days.”
According to its new lawsuit, the SBTC argues it is being treated differently than all other trucking groups that file such petitions with the Agency.
“It is the SBTC’s belief that every other ELD exemption application that has been submitted to the FMCSA for consideration and published in the Federal Register by other trucking associations, was decided upon within 6 months from the date of filing,” the complaint states.
Lamb tells TNN that while he understands the FMCSA and the DOT are currently under intense pressure from many sectors of the transportation industry given the unprecedented challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, he felt the Department must be compelled to act in accordance with the law.
“While we recognize the wheels of justice will move slower than ever during these difficult times, we decided we needed to go on record and put them in motion,” he said.
Lamb has been a sharp and outspoken critic of the FMCSA and is even calling for its defunding.
“It is time for the legislative branch to heed our call to defund FMCSA and create a regulatory agency that not only enforces the law but abides by it as well,” he urged.
The new lawsuit asks the court to compel the Agency to expeditiously render decisions on each of the three exemption applications and award the SBTC with all costs associated with bringing the legal action.
TNN has reached out to the FMCSA regarding previous litigation, and in each instance, the FMCSA says it does not comment on pending lawsuits.
TNN will continue to follow this story.