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NewsTrucking

Swift ordered to pay rival CRST more than $15 million in driver poaching lawsuit

A federal jury ordered Swift Transportation, a unit of Knight-Swift Transportation Holdings Inc. (NYSE: KNX), to pay its trucking rival more than $15 million for allegedly poaching drivers who were under contract to CRST Expedited, which is based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

According to court documents filed in U.S. District Court in Iowa in March 2017, CRST claims Swift purposely recruited and hired drivers who had completed CRST’s driver training program to obtain their commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs), but were still contractually obligated to work for the motor carrier for 10 months.

In the suit, CRST identified more than 250 drivers who had signed 10-month employment contracts with the carrier that were later recruited by Swift.

Starting in 2016, CRST claims it received more than 150 employment verification requests from Swift, headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona, for drivers who were still under contract to work for CRST. 

Court documents allege that each time CRST received an employment verification for one of its drivers still under contract, it sent correspondence to Swift, “notifying it of the driver’s contractual commitment to CRST.”

The jury found that Swift intentionally and improperly interfered with CRST drivers’ contracts, awarding it $3 million, $5 million in punitive damages and $7.5 million for unjust enrichment.

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Clarissa Hawes

Clarissa has covered all aspects of the trucking industry for 13 years. She is an award-winning journalist known for her investigative and business reporting. Prior to joining FreightWaves, she wrote for Land Line Magazine and Trucks.com. Clarissa lives in Grain Valley, Missouri, with her family.

59 Comments

    1. I say to hell with crst and that’s what swift get ,2 sorry ass companies..that’s all..lol

    2. The tricking companies will never get it. They treat drivers like scum and then wonder why they quit. I have worked for all the big companies..Swoft Crst Wernet Light. and JCT. They are all the same. Screw drivers. It’s time for more people to just walk away from trucking and not do it to begin with.. I can make more doing math and have more time off and work less per week. I will only be 30 k in debt for a BA in math. 50 to 90K per year. Much better than trucking.

    1. More than likely because as a driver just starting out at crst they are always broke ( former driver ) I trained drivers for crst know from experience had to train feed and give money to them

    2. Anecdotally I’ve had several former CRST trainees on my truck as a swift mentor and mostly I had to unteach a lot of bad habits with them.

    3. Crst dont pay their drivers sh*t ppl got families to raise heck i left c r England after 6months cuz their was paying me 26. A mile..
      That means im making 130 dollars a day
      …heck i make 50. A mile now

    4. Not they let kids get on the road even when they can’t back a truck the truck break down they don’t put you in a hotel you pay that shit your self so don’t let this company fool you they have a law suit against there company for sexual harassment and they talking this company is full of shit.

  1. I don’t see the wrong in other companies Pirating other people,, it’s not poaching the proper term is Pirating,, if you’re the company that is using and abusing the drivers they have the right to breach the contract,,, just because they go work for another company is not that companies fault that the driver that you trained and ask them to fulfill an additional 10 obligation that they left,,, CRST needs to look in the mirror and start asking why is more than 150 people leaving my company and driving for a lesser quality company,, I am not a Swift Driver or a fan of the company but I hope that the appeal and win cause this is not Swift or the drivers fault,, this just tells the rest of the country that CRST is not a good company to work for,,,

    1. Maybe CRST needs to quit treating there drivers like robots. CRST and Swift are nothing but bottom feeders.

    2. if CRST is training you CDL skills & getting you your license & you sign an agreement to work for them for 10 months, why should Swift be able to get you to break that contract? CRST made an investment in that driver. If the driver opts to leave after 10 months, so be it. But they are obligated to be CRST for 10 months.

    3. So true drivers being able to leave is a good way for fair wages
      …CUZ COMPANIES LIKE CTST…C R ENGLAND TAKE ADVANTAGE OF NEW DRIVERS NOT KNOWING THE GAME

  2. SWIFT should have had to.pay more since they are the largest trucking company in America but it serves them right by stealing other company’s drivers.

    1. How do they “Steal” another driver? Dont drivers voluntarily switch companies. Seems the drivers have no principles.

    1. Hell they do see Crst recurve money for ex cons 1400 exactly so no they should do right by drivers and maybe they can keep drivers??

    2. They are probably still going after the driver to getting a double dip. 15 mill. From Swift plus the late fees they’re charging the driver .

  3. I applied Swift and the company offered to buyout my contract while I was 5-6 months into it. The recruiter told me it would be paid out as tuition reimbursement as long as proof of a payment plan has been instated as a result of breaching the contract. The plot twist is that I ended up fulfilling my 10 month term and I’d rather keep building my experience instead of jumping around like many contract holders do.

    Companies compete for other company drivers all of the time. This isn’t necessarily poaching since it is a CRST employee that is applying to Swift. Swift has to right to decide who they want to hire anyone who is qualified as well as any company. No company should be allowed to keep an employee from getting a job anywhere else. This whole contract-buyout method is just something that should supposedly circumvent further adverse effects of possible legal issues CRST and the transitioning drivers. This case proves that there was clearly a vulnerability that wasn’t stated to be protected in the contract another company took advantage of that opportunity. Because the method wasn’t thouroughly blueprinted, Swift is in a position where it has to pay back CRST’s losses for each driver that failed do their part of the process.

    The bottom line is, I don’t find anything wrong with this. CRST’s contract does state that if the 10 month term isn’t fulfilled, the contract has been breached and a full tuition cost of $6500 is to be paid. The training program is stated to be worth $4500. If another company wants to buy out the contract, CRST would be making nearly 30% more profit per driver that makes a transition as long as the proper paperwork has been handled the way it should be.

    1. NOBODY’S GONNA STAY WHERE THEY CANT MAKE A DECENT LIVING ARE U CRAZY
      …CRST HAS THESE UNFAIR CONTRACTS THEY PUT U UNDET CUZ THEY KNOW THEY TREATING U LIKE SLAVES

  4. CRST is getting paid 3 times for the driver training. They get a $5000 check from Uncle Sam, then they force the driver to work for slave labor rates for a few months (supposed to be 10 but swift steals them) then they get 12.5 million from swift. I should buy CRST stock.

    1. Maybe you should learn to write a sentence if you are going to comment. Hard to figure out what you are implying.

  5. Only way crst can make money. Steal it from someone else. both company’s are jokers.
    No worrys trucking is dead bunch computer technicians in a set now days.

  6. I don’t feel like swift should have to pay crst I don’t drive for swift I did start out with crst but they sucks they don’t treat new driver fair I sat in OKC for 5days waiting on a trainer
    so I left bills still coming rent still due not making no money so they mad cause another company not trying to hold u back kudos to swift for giving drivers a chance even tho they didn’t give me 1 but I’m happy with the company I’m with it’s alot I can say about crst it’s really not the company it’s the people who work crst who makes drivers leave or break they contract

    1. Holy shit, Frank White. Can you please use some punctuation? Reading that made my throat hurt because I couldn’t stop for a breath. Do you know what punctuation is because you didn’t even use any at the end, so your story must continue.

      I wouldn’t say Swift is at fault; this is how business works. CRST should have sued all the drivers who failed to uphold their end of the contract. They are the ones who owe CRST; not Swift. As someone else said; both companies are bottom feeders; I can’t say anything about CRST as I know nothing about them however Swift definitely fits this label as my boyfriend drove for them when starting out. Swift sucks! They will also make a driver sit for days with no load. Therefore those breaking their contract with CRST are not leaving for greener pastures; rather more empty promises. Best of luck to anyone who chooses to work for Swift. My babe finally left those clowns.

  7. Crst is and always will be a garbage company that takes advantage of new drivers. They should be put out of business.

  8. Please every one)))) watch the Video on utube called Swift Drivers follys ..that the funniest video I ever saw. .swift drivers are complete fools….lol lol lol..

  9. so they get paid by swift and still make the drivers pay as well must be nice to get all that free money

  10. I always find it funny when a trucking company problem comes up how many whiners complain about a company they chose to approach for a job.
    I have been doing this for close to thirty years and still haven’t seen a recruiter with a gun to someone’s head forcing them to sign up for any company.
    How about honoring your word and fulfilling your commitment.
    When someone comes into me now looking for a job and I see they trained at a company for 6 months then left and went job hunting for the next two or three years I just tell them our company is not a good fit for them.
    When you have no integrity I won’t trust you with our freight.

  11. First off who would want to drive for either one of them they both sorry company’s to work. I would like to know why they don’t teach there drivers to back up I have not seen one yet that it didn’t take at least 35 mins and then hit the truck they was backing beside.Go SWIFT
    See What I.Fuc!@d Up Today

  12. Crst is no joke I work here as owner op and. When i was younger I tried going to their school and passed everything lied about my background check sent me home and I still get a bill for 8500

  13. Dont know why they would go to swift all swift dun is lie to me not pay for all the mile i run and gave me a pos truck so if there dum and go to swift thats on them

  14. Honestly CRST COULD BE FILING FALSE CLAIM. THEY DONT HAVE THE TRAINERS THAT HAS THE TRUST TO TAKE OUT AS MANY DRIVERS THEY HAVE SIGNING THOSECONTRACTS THEN NOBODY WANTS TO SIT OR BE HELD BACK SO THEY HAVE THE LICENSE. CHECK FOR OPPOTUNITIES TO STILL MAKE MONEY. THE SCHOOL AND THE COMPANY HAS NO DEALING BESIDES PAYMENT AND A HOLD ON CERTIFCATE. UNTIL AGREEMENT IS FULFILLED TO MY KNOWLEDGE, SO SWIFT ACCEPTS GET THE DRIVERS ROLLING PUTTING ALL THAT EXPERIENCE AND HARD STUDIES TO USE. SO WHY CANT CRST OFFER A. BUY OUT TO THE DRIVERS THAT HAS CAME SAT GAVE PATIENCE TO UNDERSTAND TO BARE WITH THEIR SHORTAGE. SO DRIVER SAYS ILL WAIT BUT CAN I. GO HOME. CRST DRIVER TRAINERS SOME ANYWAY THEY. DONT HAVE THE DRIVERS TO EVEN START THEM ON FIRST WEEK OF TRAINING. THE PAPER LICENSE EXPIRES TWO WEEKS AFTER CERTIFY AND ORIENTATION. ALLOW THAT DRIVER TO BE PICKED UP FROM NEXT AVAILABLE TRAINER FROM THEIR HOME OR NEAR SO THAT THEY CAN HAVE THEIR HARD COPY LICENSE AND DONT HAVE TO BE REROUTED BACK TOWARD HOME FOR THAT REASON ONCE TRAINING STARTS J/S.. BUT CRST SEEMS GREEDY 100 STUDENTS PER WEEK IS A LOT.

  15. Man I am shocked by the comments from drivers who do have experience! I’ve been driving trucks for 30 plus years and I can tell you there are classes all over the country that will teach you the correct way to drive a truck for less than $1,000 you will then graduate with a 90-day permit during which time you can also study and take the test for endorsements like Hazmat and tanker. Which would allow you to get a job almost anywhere not withstanding the two-year over-the-road requirement that a lot of companies have. But I digress I think the DOT regulations that they’re coming out with make it very hard I understand safety is a factor. But the bottom line is a lot of accidents happen and the trucking industry because drivers are not utilizing their 10 hours to sleep and rest. I know it’s hard because after driving 11 hours you don’t want to go in the back of the truck and sleep , but it is a necessity in the trucking industry. If you can’t handle that don’t get behind the wheel.

  16. Swift is so corrupt, if u dont run teams or are an our operator they take loads away from u and your partner. I got my licenses unfortunately from them in 2004 and thet corrupt then.Theres still corrupt to this day.If im not mistaken swift and England are own by the same familt.A friend of mine hot stripped of his license his licenses he already obtained for associating with England.

  17. Swift is a p o s Mormon owned company that pays next to nothing ,, I don’t know nothing about crst so I can’t say much about them .

  18. So, you sue someone b.c. drivers went to swift? Why. Not sue the drivers.. swift doing a employment background check should not make swift liable for drivers moving from one company to the other.. and that “employment contract” is with the driver and the company.. not with swift and the other company.. swift was not liable to be binding to that contract.. this sets a dangerous precedent

  19. Not a swift fan or driver but if your drivers are filling out applications for other companies because they are feeling treated unfairly and under compisated. Why sue that company they had no obligations or contracts with crst.

  20. A word from someone who has been around the trucking industry since the 60s. There isn’t a decent otr company out here. I remember when Swift actually charged a man 125.00 to APPLY? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Cripes. Guys. You are screwed around by shippers and receivers daily. Pay has not increased incrementally over the years and now with electronic logging you will make less money driving less miles with no pay increase. Win win for the company. No more log violations or fines regarding hours of service. Over the road is something to stay away from. Especially the 2 companies in this article

  21. Actually it’s not a binding contract. You can leave at any time. What the contract is, is a commitment to work for the company and not have to pay for the training which you otherwise would say at a CDL school.
    All of the big companies have this. Swift, Prime, CRST, Stevens Transport, Crete, C.R. England and others I probably forgot.
    If you leave after you get CDL but before the obligated time they can sue you for the breech of contract.
    I know this because I went through the training program at Prime in 2016. I became a trainer last year and several of my students quit after getting their CDL.

  22. Exactly. There is no way this decision holds up. Unless Swift is to dumb to appeal. So I guess it might hold up…

  23. Swift and CRST and England and all the bottom feeder company’s need to be put out of business .

  24. Who cares. Truckers are mostly scum bag , child molester looking mfers anyway. Bring on the automated trucks quickly please.

  25. It’s Trucking, the only reason they went after a swift is because of the Swift name. Swift as a company also stopped hiring drivers from certain schools because schools were using these companies to train their drivers and then go somewhere else it happens every day all day all the damn time.
    But blame the company and not the driver who’s breaking the contract, it’s what people do no accountability. Wether you hate Swift or not this is an absolute joke lawsuit, and someone fishing for money because they’re losing drivers by a practice that happens in the entire Transportation industry.

  26. Swift n trouble w the feds again. All the trkg company’s do it stealing drivers from each other and paying high dollar sign on bonuses sad…

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