Company Ordered to Reconsider Fired Driver’s Retaliation Claim
Terminations are some of the most tumultuous and controversial aspects of business. Being let go is never easy, and it can sometimes result in disagreements that find their way to the court room.
Sometimes a worker believes their termination stems from something other than a lack of productivity or a violation of company policy. There have been many cases of employees losing their jobs after facing backlash from management.
Roderick Carter, who worked for CPC Logistics, claims he was fired for doing something many drivers face punishment for not doing – taking rest breaks.
The company provides transportation services for corporate customers, and Carter says he was terminated after he took rest breaks upon becoming too tired to continue his routes. Carter claims the termination was enacted even though he had informed management about his breaks, and that said breaks are covered under law.
Driver fatigue is one of the biggest problems in trucking. After a failed move to make sleep apnea screenings mandatory and numerous changes to hours-of-service regulations over the years, the list of attempts to tackle the topic has swollen in a short time.
Most recently, the mandatory switch from paper log books to electronic logging devices was passed to stop drivers from falsifying records. This measure is set to go in effect on December 18. The biggest fear stems from drivers potentially operating too long without sleep and causing accidents related to fatigue.
Carter’s complaint to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration says his company violated the Surface Transportation Act of 1982. The statute prohibits employers from discharging employees over their refusal to operate a vehicle for safety reasons.
The complaint was originally dismissed by an OSHA area director, at which point Carter requested a hearing before a Department of Labor administrative law judge. When he got the same answer as before, Carter went even further and took the decision to the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia.
A three-person panel ordered the company to reconsider the termination after it was revealed the company had indeed been informed about the rest breaks at the time. Representatives from CPC Logistics have not yet commented on the ruling.