Wrongfully Terminated as a Truck Driver

Your employment cannot be terminated if the reason for termination is clearly a violation of state or federal employment law. Unfortunately, many workers in the U.S., including truck drivers, are employed on an at-will basis.

Employers can fire them for all sorts of reasons, but not if the reason is against the law, i.e. wrongful termination. If your employment was regulated by an employment contract this gives you more rights spelled out at work.

If you have proof that your employment was wrongfully terminated, then you may be able to build a case against your employer and sue them for damages. An employment law attorney can help you with a claim for compensation.

Common Types of Wrongful Termination

Typical examples of wrongful termination include:

  • complaining about unsafe or unhealthy working conditions, e.g. being forced to drive a truck with exhaust smoke leaking into the cab;
  • refusing to work in conditions or for pay that was a breach of an employment contract;
  • discrimination against you because of your age, sexual orientation, gender and disability.

wrongfully terminated as a Truck Driver

To take some examples, let’s say that you have an employment contract stipulates that you do no more than 50 hours of driving a week, but your employer keeps on insisting that you work longer and then fires you because you point out that the contract said less.

To take one more example, say that you have been working as a truck driver for the same firm for 20 years. You have good job evaluation records and a good reputation at work as a driver, but the employer fires you and replaces you with a driver 20 years younger.

Both of these examples are possible cases of wrongful termination and you may have grounds for at least taking the cases to the state Labor Commissioner or Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) to assess before being able to sue the employer.

If you get fired after complaining about poor working conditions, you have the right to file a lawsuit with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The Department of Occupational Safety and Health is the California counterpart (DOSH).

These entities have broad authority to investigate the facts of your case and, if applicable, levy administrative penalties. They can also attempt to assist you in reaching an agreement with your boss or filing a lawsuit against them.

The next step should be to determine why you were dismissed and the reasons that contributed to your dismissal. When you are fired, your employer or bosses should give you an explanation for the termination. However, there may be broader, and often criminal, motives that you are unaware of but believe.

What to Do If You’ve Been Wrongfully Terminated as a Truck Driver

It is very important to build up a dossier which shows who said what and what actions were taken that help to prove that your employer acted improperly. It may be examples of behavior that they have shown before, e.g. firing any truck driver who complained about having to drive dirty or unsafe trucks, or firing women when men are available.

Records of text and phone messages, letters or emails, conversations with dates and times may be relevant as evidence. There may be other truck drivers or workers at your place of employment who can verify that the employer was acting unlawfully and who are prepared to make a statement supporting your claim.

If you take your case to a state Department of Labor or the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC), then they will probably first investigate your complaint and evaluate whether you are justified in claiming that your employer wrongfully terminated you. If an attempt at reconciliation is a dead loss, you can then pursue a claim against the employer for compensation. This may include getting your job back, lost earnings, court fees, attorney’s fees and a pain and suffering component.

how to prove wrongful termination

How To Prove Wrongful Termination

It is essential to have your job status recorded. You will need to have a lot of employment records prepared to do so, including your background history, employment contract, employee handbook, corporate rules, job reviews, paystubs, related addresses, memos, and termination letter.

In certain states, an implicit contract – one in which there is no formal agreement but just an oral one – can be recognized. Check your state's rules on implied contracts. It can be difficult to prove implied contracts since they are not registered and the terms of the contract are not known.

When you are terminated, it is important that you document everything, including the circumstances that lead up to your dismissal. It is important that you do so as soon as possible because the facts and nuances may get blurred in your mind over time. Make a detailed list of specifics, including an exact sequence of events.

If you were terminated after receiving positive feedback, it is likely that other causes contributed to your firing. Have a list of everybody who is involved. Make a list of their names, positions, and titles. Have a list of who informed you that you were being dismissed, as well as who else was in the meeting.

Labor Law Attorneys for Truck Drivers

Truck drivers work a highly stressful job that includes ensuring deliveries arrive on time and that they abide by the strict driving regulations enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Employers must abide by the standards implemented by the FMSCA to protect truck drivers while they move around the United States, as well as in Mexico and Canada.

However, some employers violate the regulations issued by the FMCSA, which means you should know what labor law attorneys can do for truck drivers. Here are some things an attorney may be able to help with:

Receive Legal Advice

Partnering with a labor law attorney may give you a source of helpful advice while you navigate the legal process. Your attorney may help you understand your state and federal laws.

Understand Compensation Packages

Truckers typically work under a complex compensation package that is based somewhat on performance while on the job. Many employment disputes focus on a worker’s wages, benefits, and/or termination issues.

File a Complaint

An employment attorney can be an advocate for protecting your rights, which can mean filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). If your lawyer can gather enough physical evidence, with the support of witness accounts. This may help have a strong enough case to file a civil lawsuit that seeks monetary damages.

Help for an Unsafe Work Environment

Some truckers haul dangerous substances such as toxic waste and hazardous chemicals. Although trucking companies must follow the safety guidelines established by the FMSCA, some unethical employers cut corners to save money when hauling dangerous substances. An employment attorney may help put an end to illegal hauling practices.

If you are a truck driver who has a legal issue with your employer, contact a labor law attorney to receive the legal support that you deserve.

Wrongfully Terminated as a Truck Driver

Get a Free Evaluation Today

It is advisable to discuss your potential claim with an experienced employment law attorney before filing you claim. You are most likely to get to this stage if all attempts at reversing the termination or compensation offered through the official channels mentioned above come to nothing.

Many employment law lawyers may offer contingency fee arrangements. These attorneys basically defer legal fees until a case is won and a compensation payment is obtained. The legal fees are usually absorbed into the claim amount. Ask about payments to see if your attorney operates on contingency fees.

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