Ellen Voie Testifies Against a Woman in a Sexual Assault Case
Originally Posted on May 25, 2021
Jane Doe v CRST $5 Million Verdict. Why would the Founder and President of Women in Trucking, Ellen Voie act as an expert witness against women truck drivers in both the EEOC v Prime discrimination case and in a sexual assault case involving CRST Van Expedited when she was well aware these companies had been plagued with allegations against them? Why get involved?
For over 14 years we have tried to raise awareness of the grossly unethical conduct by the WIT Association Founder who regularly instigated online bullying, deliberately drove wedges between women truck drivers, has called companies trying to get women truck drivers fired for speaking out and advocating for themselves. Comment censorship, blocking and banning women truck drivers on social media who want answers to tough questions has been the norm for over a decade at WIT.
This month we learned that finally, Ellen Voie has stepped down from her position, but we are unclear if she is moving into a much more dangerous one to become a lobbyist and to continue her misrepresentation of what the true obstacles are for women entering truck driving. We feel it is important to our members and subscribers to understand that until the WIT association dumps bad companies and demands meaningful change, they will continue to be part of the problem.
The deposition of Ellen Voie, Founder and former President of Women in Trucking was first made public on our website in 2021 in an effort to get the trucking industry to open their eyes. Not only do we have a sexual assault problem in truck driver training fleets but also intentional negligence by the trucking industry who have ignored every warning sign that the anointed women's trucking association President was actually harming women.
The jaw dropping deposition of Ellen Voie illustrated in her own words that there were never any WIT "best practices", that she was more focused on herself than what Jane Doe experienced and became clearly uncomfortable uttering the words “sexual harassment” and “sexual assault.
Her dishonestly and misleading remarks about the Battelle study, the number of years she has been aware of the ongoing sexual assault allegations at CRST Expedited, Inc. stood out. Her testimony as to whether her board members and corporate supporters knew she was there to refute my expert testimony for the Plaintiff rang true, she stated they were not aware, and this is just the problem. Why weren't they aware? Because this was not her 1st time doing such a thing.
To most people it is unfathomable a woman who has put herself up as an advocate for women would testify against them in a case of such a serious nature, but this is the person we at REAL Women in Trucking have always known Ellen to be. One face with corporate sponsors and another face with women truck drivers who have the audacity to question her integrity. Until the trucking industry can come to grips that there is conscious disregard in the way women in executive positions, human resources, dispatchers, brokers, recruiters, etc. often interact with women who are truck drivers it makes no sense that we are all going to be represented by one association. Ellen is a product of this culture, and no one wanted to pay attention. That is how this happened.
Here is an excerpt from Ellen Voie's deposition in Jane Doe v CRST Van Expedited
Jane Doe Lawyer Question: You’ve been retained as an expert witness in this case. You understand that? Ellen Voie: I do. Jane Doe Lawyer Question: Who retained you? Ellen Voie: Stephanie Tanada. Jane Doe Lawyer Question: And she retained you on behalf of whom? Ellen Voie: On behalf of CRST. Jane Doe Lawyer Question: And you’ve also been retained by the perpetrator in this case, Eric Horton; that’s correct? Defendants Lawyer TANADA: Objection. Assumes facts not in evidence. Defendants Lawyer CAPASSO: Join. Jane Doe Lawyer Question: Have you been retained by Eric Horton in this case? Ellen Voie: No. Jane Doe Lawyer Question: Did you see an expert designation by Mr. Horton’s attorneys designating you as their expert? Ellen Voie: I don’t recall seeing that. Jane Doe Lawyer Question: Do you — So hypothetically, if CRST is no longer in this case, do you intend to stay in this case and testify on behalf of Mr. Horton? Ellen Voie: If asked, I will. Jane Doe Lawyer Question: Have you ever met Mr. Horton? Ellen Voie: No. Jane Doe Lawyer Question: Do you understand what this case is about? Ellen Voie: I do. Jane Doe Lawyer Question: What’s this case about? Ellen Voie: It’s about an incident between Jane Doe and Eric Horton. Jane Doe Lawyer Question: What do you mean, “an incident”? Ellen Voie: A sexual encounter. Jane Doe Lawyer Question: What do you mean, “a sexual encounter”? Ellen Voie: Just a sexual encounter in a cab of a truck. Jane Doe Lawyer Question: So what happened? Ellen Voie: All I can do — I’m not going to speculate. Jane Doe Lawyer Question: No; no. I want to know what your understanding of — of — what happened in the cab of the truck. Ellen Voie: My understanding is that Eric Horton and Jane Doe had sex. Jane Doe Lawyer Question: And then so what’s this lawsuit about? Ellen Voie: The lawsuit is Jane Doe suing CRST and Eric Horton for sexual assault.
What we learned from this deposition besides that Ellen would sink to this level was who are the WIT association members. It has always been difficult information to obtain.
We learned that most of their 5500 members are actually companies not individuals and of the individuals they were mostly NOT truck drivers. The truck driver members are primarily associated because of the company told them to be. In our personal experience, many of our members here at REAL Women in Trucking are required to attend WIT events because the company sponsors them, and they are not interested in why most drivers want nothing to do with WIT. According to Ellen in her testimony only 600 individual members are truck drivers and 95% of that number are women (about 570). She also testified that her base salary without bonuses was $163,000 but she did not include her benefit package or the nearly $64,000 she spends annually for her 5-star travel accommodations and the 1st class flights. This brings her compensation package closer to $200,000.00. In addition, we know that Ellen likes to brag that she bought her own plane from the fruits of her position at WIT. It's noteworthy to mention that women truck drivers have very little access to bathrooms, showers and laundry facilities as a lifestyle condition of their job, so it's tone deaf at best to hear how WIT has been so lucrative for Ellen that she could afford to buy herself a plane.
In the most recent WIT association and WIT foundation IRS 990 filings we could obtain from 2019 and 2017 respectively, we found discrepancies and omissions related to Ellen’s deposition testimony regarding the WIT foundation, and though she stated she is not on the Board of Directors there are familiar names on the Form 990, like her Walmart buddy Jeff Hammonds in particular, and since Ellen herself was the one signing off on the IRS documents, it is my opinion she misrepresented her influence on the WIT foundation in her deposition for the Jane Doe v CRST Expedited, Inc. case.
When Ellen was asked about her truck driving experience, she testified that her driver training consisted of 3 weeks in a truck driver classroom and staying in a motel at night. This is not the reality for most women entering truck driver training.
Jane Doe v CRST Expedited, Inc. involved a 55-year-old mother of two, an African American woman who took a leap of faith to enter truck driving as a second career. She signed on for employment at CRST who has a legendary troubled history when it comes to sexual assault allegations in their training program. The requirement for driver training in companies like CRST is that you live and work together for weeks and months at a time with a total stranger. There is no supervision, you are isolated from family, friends and familiar places. It is a recipe for disaster.
Ellen has been aware of this since at least 2008 because I personally told her about it on numerous occasions and she flat out refused to act. Her testimony misrepresents the length of time she has had knowledge of this issue, and this is most troubling.
Jane Doe on the other hand was not aware of this history at CRST but she could have been if the WIT Assocation would have stopped enabling them in 2008. Every single rape that has occurred in truck driver training since 2008 comes as a result of the failure of the Women in Trucking leadership and the American Trucking Association. They have had knowledge of the issue, they have a voice and the power to change it.
Not only was Jane Doe sexually assaulted during her truck driver training, but she was also later terminated and sent a bill for $9000.00 for her tuition for the truck driver training she never received. She was never able to realize her dream to become a qualified truck driver.
CRST employees testified that claims of sexual assault are not considered “valid” unless they are corroborated by a third party, a confession or recorded by video or audio. Since there are only two people on the truck, that is unlikely to ever happen.
Sexual assault and harassment in violation of the Fair Employment & Housing Act (FEHA)
§ Failure to investigate and prevent harassment in violation of FEHA.
§ Negligent hiring, retention, and supervision
§ Intentional infliction of emotional distress
The case of Jane Doe v CRST is unsealed. This is important for other cases in the future and important to those who want to better understand the lack of oversight and accountability in companies that train truck drivers.
The PDF link to my deposition is at the bottom of this post. I was the expert witness for Jane Doe the Plaintiff and as a matter of transparency I think it is important for people to read everything associated with cases like these. We have so far to go to bring justice to those affected in this industry.
Here are my some of my opinions on the case:
Mr. Horton should not have been a trainer to anyone, neither male nor female.
The lack of safeguards in this industry puts people at risk and protects people like Mr. Horton. Predators can bounce from training fleet to training fleet with a clean slate. Mr. Horton was able to become reemployed quickly several times over and he is very likely out there driving for a company who has no idea he was found guilty in a case of this nature. There is nothing to stop him or others like him from going from one training fleet to another where they will have easy access to vulnerable new student truck drivers.
A trainer who suggests, offers, or is aware that Zzquil is on a commercial motor vehicle training truck is unacceptable. This is a potent over the counter drug that causes impairment. A trainer or co-driver who is suggesting or providing a substance that causes impairment to the student is setting the stage for an assault.
Since 2009, I have had at least a dozen women tell me of this very same scenario just before they were sexually assaulted. This is a red flag that truck driver training orientations should identify to warn new drivers.
Another item of interest we learned from Ellen’s deposition is that she deliberately obstructed the 1st industry specific sexual harassment presentation ever created in Winter 2015 days before a webinar was to be presented. Ellen confirmed that she personally interfered with the presentation I was asked to create for the company Infinit -I Workforce Solutions – Vertical Alliance.
Here is her testimony.
From the Deposition of Ellen Voie – Jane Doe v CRST Expedited, Inc.
Jane Doe Lawyer Question: Let me get there. Actually — I’m sorry. Can we go to an e-mail from — between you and a man named Greg Shipman?
Ellen Voie: Sure.
Jane Doe Lawyer Question: And that’s — that’s in the — your file? Great. And it is dated February 27th, 2020. It looks like you sent an e-mail to Greg Shipman at 1:11 p.m. on February 27th, 2020, “Subject: Quick Question.” Why did you –First of all, who’s Greg Ship- — Gregory Shipman?
Ellen Voie: He works for Vertical Alliance Group.
Jane Doe Lawyer Question: It says he works for Infini — Infinit-I Workforce Solutions. Is that the same thing?
Ellen Voie: Infinit-I is a product of Vertical Alliance Group.
Jane Doe Lawyer Question: Okay. And so, you wrote to him and said: “Greg, could you please check on something for me very quickly? “Desiree Wood is calling herself an expert on sexual harassment and the only verification she has is that she was asked to do a program for Vertical Alliance Group. I thought they didn’t use her. I really need this information as I am being called in to refute her.” You wrote that e-mail?
Ellen Voie: Yes.
Jane Doe Lawyer Question: And why do you believe the only verification she has to be an expert on sexual harassment is that she wrote this PowerPoint for Vertical Alliance?
Ellen Voie: She didn’t write — She didn’t do anything for Vertical Alliance. I read her transcript, and the questions asked of her were, “How much training had you done?” and the only one she could cite was Vertical Alliance Group.
Jane Doe Lawyer Question: Oh, like an in-person training?
Ellen Voie: Training in a professional setting.
Jane Doe Lawyer Question: Okay. Did you see in her — in her transcript that she talked about hundreds of women who had reported directly to her about their sexual assaults that they experienced on the road?
Ellen Voie: Yes.
Jane Doe Lawyer Question: Okay. Did you have any feeling — Did that affect your opinion one way or the other?
Ellen Voie: No.
Jane Doe Lawyer Question: Okay. So, let’s go to his response to you. It is on the page right before that. And he wrote you back, same day, 1:31 p.m. And I just want to skip down here. So, he says that she did create a PowerPoint presentation for them — you saw that — but they didn’t pay her for it and they didn’t use it. Did you understand that from reading the e-mail?
Ellen Voie: Yes.
Jane Doe Lawyer Question: Okay. And then he goes on to say: “When talking to Jay and Karen about this –it all came back. You actually call me on this back in 2015 and told me that we should investigate Desiree for credibility. I called Jay and or Karen (can’t remember that detail) and they looked into it” based on — “based on your comment and then decided to cancel the webinar. So, she never did anything for us — no webinar — no sexual harassment video classes and we never paid her any money. Let me know if you need anything else.” So my question is, back in 2015, how did you hear that Desiree was creating a PowerPoint for Vertical Alliance Group?
Ellen Voie: Originally, Vertical Alliance Group asked — We had a discussion about a sexual harassment video. They do online training. And I asked if they had one. And they only had one for buses. And I said, “Have you thought about doing one for truck drivers?” And somehow, they found her. And I said — and I — I don’t recall how I found that out, if she had posted it somewhere. I don’t recall. But I called him, and I said, “What is her credibility to do this PowerPoint?” And that’s where they took over and decided not to.
Jane Doe Lawyer Question: Okay. So, you made the suggestion to Vertical Alliance in 2015 that they should make a training video?
Ellen Voie: I asked them if they had a training video, and they said, “We have one for buses,” and I “Have you ever thought about doing one for trucking?”
Jane Doe Lawyer Question: Did you offer to — to do one with them for trucking?
Ellen Voie: I did.
Jane Doe Lawyer Question: Okay. And what did they say?
Ellen Voie: The materials that I had were based on a competitor, and they didn’t want their materials in there.
Jane Doe Lawyer Question: Okay. So, then they go to Desiree Wood to create the video?
Ellen Voie: Correct.
Jane Doe Lawyer Question: And you found out about that?
Ellen Voie: Correct.
Jane Doe Lawyer Question: And then you contacted them to tell them that they should investigate her for credibility?
Ellen Voie: I don’t know that I used the term “investigate.” But I said they needed to establish her credibility.
Jane Doe Lawyer Question: Okay. So, you took it upon yourself to make sure that she couldn’t — was not hired to finish this — this video; correct?
Ellen Voie: All I did was contact Vertical Alliance Group and said, “Check her credibility.”
Jane Doe Lawyer Question: And why did you do that?
Ellen Voie: Desiree Wood has a reputation in this industry, and anytime — Retract that. -Desiree Wood has a reputation in this industry. I was worried that a professional organization could have their credibility hurt by using a person who didn’t have credibility in that subject.
Jane Doe Lawyer Question: What is her reputation?
Ellen Voie: As someone who harasses me.
Jane Doe Lawyer Question: Okay. Beyond — I know you —
Ellen Voie: Mm-hmm.
Jane Doe Lawyer Question: Beyond harassing you personally —
Ellen Voie: Mm-hmm.
Jane Doe Lawyer Question: — what is her reputation in the community? The trucking community; correct?
Ellen Voie: Correct.
Jane Doe Lawyer Question: Okay. Tell me what her reputation in the trucking community you is beyond just saying that she harasses you.
Ellen Voie: That’s it.
Jane Doe Lawyer Question: That’s her reputation, is that she harasses you?” (Read the Entire Deposition HERE)
Just think about it. If Ellen Voie had not obstructed that presentation in 2015, the trucking industry would have been on the road to accountability way before the #MeToo & #TimesUp movement ever began. It never has occurred to her that asking for accountability on a matter as serious as sexual assault at companies that are corporate sponsors of WIT is not harassment. It's not about her, it is about the women truck drivers who have had their lives turned upside down when they entered this industry hoping for a new career and we as an industry have collectively failed them.