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Court Rules Driver May Sue After Being Fired For Misreporting Truck Problem


According to Business Insurance, on Monday, a federal appeals court ruled that a former dump truck driver can sue his former employer for terminating him because he unknowingly misreported a problem with the truck he was operating.

The driver, Diego Gaines, was a seasonal dump truck driver for Illinois-based K-Five Construction Corp. For five years.  Gaines reported an issue with the truck to his managers. Despite the report, Gaines was ordered to drive the truck the following day and was nearly involved in an accident.

Mr. Gaines said he agreed to drive the unrepaired truck because he was afraid he would be fired for refusing.

Business Insurance reported that a mechanic told Gaines that a steering drag-link was off center, which caused the truck to pull to the left. The diagnosis was reported to Gaines’ supervisor.

In 2010, K-Five Construction terminated Gaines, citing the inaccurate report and three instances of insubordination.

Gaines said that he, “honestly believed he was accurately relaying the information obtained from the mechanic, but that he botched the details.”

Gaines filed suit with OSHA under the Surface Transportation Assistance Act.

“Even if the truck could drive straight with an off-center steering wheel, it is not unreasonable to conclude that asking Gaines to work a 13-hour shift with a misaligned steering wheel posed a safety concern,” the appeals court said. “The text of the (Surface Transportation Assistance Act) protects employees complaining of safety violations – Gaines was complaining about a steering problem he considered unsafe. There is no evidence that Gaines intentionally misidentified the problem,” said the ruling.



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