Trucker Fired for Not Texting While Driving?
Texting and driving has proven to be dangerous, with many accidents occurring because drivers have their eyes on their mobile rather than the road. Given that commercial trucks can cause more damage in an accident, the campaign against texting and driving has been especially prevalent in the freight industry.
And while many lawsuits have been filed because drivers were texting while driving, one curious case seems to show a driver fired because they failed to text while driving. A suit filed in San Diego Superior Court against a local carrier is raising serious concerns about road safety.
Thomas Aylott, a 53 year-old trucker, is suing his former employer Western Transportation for allegedly terminating him for failing to respond to texts while moving freight. He received two text messages while driving 80,000 pounds of steel down the road in California. The texts went unnoticed until Aylott stopped the vehicle, at which point he asked the sender, his boss, to call him via Bluetooth so he could communicate without being in violation of company policy or California state law.
However, the driver reports that he was told to “get with the program” and learn to text and drive “like everyone else.”
This presents a serious conflict of interest, as it appears an employee was pressured by management not only to break the law, but to break a law which was designed to prevent serious accidents. The company has chosen not to comment on Aylott’s termination, but did say that their organization places a high value on safety and that they were confident the claims against them would be defeated at trial.