FMCSA adopted regulations that prohibit motor carriers, shippers, receivers, or transportation intermediaries from coercing drivers to operate commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) in violation of certain provisions of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs)–including drivers’ hours-of-service limits; the commercial driver’s license (CDL) regulations; drug and alcohol testing rules; and the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMRs). In addition, the rule prohibits anyone who operates a CMV in interstate commerce from coercing a driver to violate the commercial regulations. This rule includes procedures for drivers to report incidents of coercion to FMCSA, establishes rules of practice that the Agency will follow in response to reports of coercion, and describes penalties that may be imposed on entities found to have coerced drivers.

Coercion occurs when a motor carrier, shipper, receiver, or transportation intermediary threatens to withhold work from, take employment action against, or punish a driver for refusing to operate in violation of certain provisions of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs), Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMRs) and the Federal Motor Carrier Commercial Regulations (FMCCRs). Coercion may be found to have taken place even if a violation has not occurred. An example of coercion is when a motor carrier terminates a driver for refusing to accept a load that would require the driver to violate the hours of service requirements. The following must have occurred in order for coercion to have existed:

  • A motor carrier, shipper, receiver, or transportation intermediary request a driver to perform a task that would result in the driver violating certain provisions of the FMCSRs, HMRs, or the FMCCRs;
  • The driver informs the motor carrier, shipper, receiver, or transportation intermediary of the violation that would occur if the task is performed, such as driving over the hours of service limits or creating unsafe driving conditions; and
  • The motor carrier shipper, receiver, or transportation intermediary make a threat or take action against the driver’s employment or work opportunities to get the driver to take the load despite the regulatory violation that would occur.

To address the problem of coercion, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) adopted the Prohibiting Coercion of Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers (Coercion Rule). The Coercion Rule explicitly prohibits motor carriers, shippers, receivers and transportation intermediaries from coercing drivers to operate in violation of certain FMCSA regulations, including the drivers’ hours-of-service limits, the commercial driver’s license (CDL) regulations, the associated drug and alcohol testing rules, HMRs, and some of the FMCCRs. The Coercion Rule allows drivers to report incidents of coercion to FMCSA and authorizes FMCSA to issue penalties against motor carriers, shippers, receivers, or transportation intermediaries that have coerced drivers.

Filing a Coercion Complaint with FMCSA

The Coercion Rule took effect on January 29, 2016, at that time the FMCSA started accepting coercion complaints from drivers.

Coercion complaints must be filed within 90 days of the alleged coercion action.

When filing your complaint, drivers must include as much supporting information as you have, such as:

  • Text messages or email exchanges between parties showing coercion attempts by a motor carrier, shipper, receiver, or transportation intermediary, as well as your responses; and
  • Names of anyone who may witnessed the coercion attempt.

All coercion complaints must be in writing and can be mailed to the Division Office located in the state where the complainant is employed or filed with the National Consumer Complaint Database.

File a Whistle blower Complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

Drivers have the right to question the safety practices of their employer without the risk of losing their job or being subject to retaliation for stating a safety concern. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s whistle blower statutes protect drivers from retaliation.

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