One application to rule them all? Not so fast

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) lay out specific application requirements for hiring drivers, from when the application must be completed to the exact information that must be requested. This amount of detail, while thorough, can help streamline the process of hiring for positions that are regulated by the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration).

On the flip side, federal employment law says very little about non-driving job applications, dropping hints about what not to include without providing much detail about the rest of it. Some state laws pick up this slack here and there, but none give much detail about what to ask (or not ask) applicants. This lack of information begs the question: Can’t carriers just use the same application for everyone?

Hiring for a non-driving position

Can they? Maybe. But should they? Probably not. Not only is much of the driving-related information irrelevant to non-driving positions, some of the other fields could put employers at risk for claims of discrimination. For example, the following items, which are required on FMCSA-regulated applications, should be avoided on non-driving applications:

  • Date of birth. Contrary to popular opinion, it is not usually illegal to ask for a date of birth on a non-driving job application. It is a bad idea, however, because it could create the impression of discrimination if the applicant is not hired and is over age 40.
  • Social security number. Generally, there is no federal prohibition on collecting non-driving applicants’ social security numbers. Many states, however, have laws on how they must be handled. In addition, collecting this information puts you in possession of personally identifiable information (PII), meaning you could be held responsible if it is somehow stolen or misused.
  • Address (and address history). At best, the applicant’s address is probably irrelevant. At worst, this information could cause those who see it to make assumptions about an applicant’s living or financial situation, which could increase the risk of discrimination. It’s also more PII that you must protect, even if you don’t hire the person.

While all of the above information is essential to actually employing someone, it is not (nor should it be) essential to hiring someone for a non-driving position. Instead of including it on the application, consider requesting it after a job offer has been made.

Best practice on FMCSA-approved applications

The best way to know when to use which application is to ask yourself one simple question: Will the position require driving a vehicle over 10,000 pounds? If the answer is yes, always use an FMCSA-approved application. If the answer is no, it’s time to break out a more generic form.

Keep in mind that if a current non-driving employee is making the change to a driving role, he or she will need to complete a new, FMCSA-approved application. Their original, non-driving job application not will satisfy the application requirement for a driver qualification file.


Key to remember: The data elements on the driver’s application are required to comply with §391.21. Asking an applicant who is not subject to the safety regulations could put your carrier at risk.

Driver Application Sample

About the author
Ann Potratz - Human Resources Editor

Ann is an editor on the Human Resources Publishing Team, she specializes in employment law issues such as discrimination, sexual harassment, background checks, terminations, and security.

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