Example of a whistleblower case we handled where a trucker refused to drive more hours than permitted by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)
Our client was a Class A certified truck driver for a construction company who drove trucks with a gross vehicle weight of at least 10,001 pounds. During the course of our client’s employment, the construction company owner required him to violate U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations by requiring him to drive more hours than DOT regulations permitted.
In the latter part of his employment, our client began to refuse to follow the directives given by the company’s owner that would require him to violate DOT regulations. Our client complained to the company’s owner, his boss, that he was requiring him to drive his truck in violation of DOT regulations. The boss became increasingly angry and hostile towards our client because of his complaints about violations of DOT regulations and his refusals to violate DOT regulations.
Then one day our client was assigned to drive a route that would require him to drive in excess of the number of hours DOT regulations allowed and our client protested, telling his boss that he would have to violate DOT regulations in order to finish the run.
In response to our client’s expressed concern about driving too many hours and violating DOT regulations, his boss told him to “go the f*** home.”
Later that same day, our client called his boss back in order to ask what his work assignment would be the next day. His boss asked him if he planned to work all day. Our client said that he would work all day if they could do it legally. In response, his boss told him that he should then just “stay the f*** home.” Our client asked his employer if that meant he was terminated and the boss said “I guess so” and then hung up. Our client called back the next day to plead for his job, hoping the employer would reconsider. Our client stated that he didn’t understand why they just could not comply with the federal rules. The boss told our client that he could work by the boss’ rules or not at all and then he hung up on our client again.
Our firm pursued the case on the client’s behalf and argued that he had engaged in protected activity under Maine’s Whistleblower Protection Act (MWPA) and the federal Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA) when he reported to his employer that he was being required to violate DOT regulations by driving more hours than DOT regulations permitted. We also argued that the client engaged in protected activity when he refused to carry out a directive by his employer that would violate the DOT regulations. Under the MWPA and the STAA, an employer may not retaliate against an employee for reporting something he or she has reasonable cause to believe is a violation of state or federal rules. Maine Employee Rights Group attorneys argued that the employer violated our client’s rights under the MHRA when it terminated him because he engaged in protected activity under the MWPA and also violated our client’s rights under STAA when it terminated him because he engaged in protected activity under STAA.
After filing this case with the Maine Human Rights Commission and filed and litigated in Federal Court the case was resolved to the client’s satisfaction through settlement.