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Loaded and Rolling: Werner’s $36 million judgment 

Outbound tender volumes will continue to rise out of Texas; spot rates expected to remain around $2.30 per mile

(Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Werner has found themselves on the losing end of a civil suit after being ordered to pay out $36 million to Victor Robinson on the grounds that he was denied employment as a truck driver because he was deaf. 

The backstory: According to FreightWaves’ John Kingston’s reporting, Robinson applied for a job at Werner in January 2016. Robinson didn’t have previous over-the-road experience, but he had a commercial driver’s license after training at Roadmaster, a Werner-owned driver training center. Before applying for the job with Werner, Robinson had gotten a medical exemption from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s rule on physical requirements for drivers. 

It’s no secret that a majority of drivers tend to work for Werner after completing the training at Roadmaster, so it’s not uncommon for Werner to have to provide some additional training to new hires with the exact same qualifications. 

Werner’s attorneys were tasked with proving the company denied employment based on Robinson’s skill, experience, education and other requirements. Kingston’s article said Judge John Gerrard described “the Werner defense as saying that ‘Robinson was unqualified because he was an inexperienced truck driver who could not engage in an asserted essential function of the over-the-road truck driver job, and no reasonable accommodation would have enabled him to safely do so.’”

Werner has previously hired deaf drivers, however, they had six months of experience so they didn’t need to go through additional training. The previous hires also were generic drivers and Robinson would have been a placement driver. Werner separates the two as a placement driver is any driver with less than six months of experience. Those drivers have to be given additional training whereas generic drivers do not need the additional training. 

The biggest issue here is that Werner wasn’t able to provide reasonable accommodations to Robinson during the training phase of his time of being a placement driver. 

Market Update: Everything is about to get even bigger in Texas 

(SONAR Ticker: OTVI.TX – Seasonality)

The saying that “everything is bigger in Texas” is about to become a reality. The rise of nearshoring to Mexico has boosted cross-border trade, as has the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. “According to Bloomberg News, there were 17,000 businesses since 2019 that have moved their headquarters or their businesses [from California and New York] to places like Texas.’ 

From 2020 to 2022, the Texas GDP grew 31%; comparatively California’s grew only 19%, as reported by FreightWaves’ Noi Mahoney. As trade between the U.S. and Mexico continues to increase, outbound tender volumes will continue to rise out of Texas, especially in Houston, Dallas and, more significantly, Laredo. 

According to Mahoney’s article, “Like Nuevo Leon, Chihuahua has recently seen tremendous growth in manufacturing plants and jobs. During the first six months of 2023, Chihuahua received about $1 billion in foreign direct investment from 30 new foreign companies, representing 1,300 new jobs.”

Texas is not to be messed with anytime soon as it very well could overtake California when it comes to import freight. 

FreightWaves SONAR spotlight 


Short-term spot rate expectations suggest the slight bump in rates caused by Labor Day brings an elevated plateau that is expected to continue through mid-September, according to FreightWaves’ National Truckload Index Forecast. Twenty-eight-day forecast spot rates are expected to remain around $2.30 per mile all-in as truckload capacity returns to the market and shippers tender more freight through contracted volumes as outbound tender rejections, on a national level, are at 4.31%. That indicates strong carrier compliance. The seven-day average National Truckload Index (NTI) rate is expected to take another jump then remain steady week over week.

Nationwide outbound tender rejection rates are currently at 4.31% as carriers continue to accept as many contractually tendered loads as possible before testing their luck with spot market options. As rejections have increased, it is becoming more common — though not significantly so — for the second and third carriers on the routing guide to see an uptick in volumes coming their way as it is becoming slightly more common for the first carrier to reject the loads.

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