Wisconsin truck drivers may have heard about a dump truck driver who was terminated after giving his supervisor slightly inaccurate information about a potentially hazardous vehicle problem and allegedly not complying with orders on three occasions. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit has now ruled that the driver can sue his former employer for wrongful termination on grounds of retaliation for the misinformation.
The next day, he was assigned to drive the same truck. The driver agreed to take the truck even though it was not repaired because he was afraid of being terminated if he didn't. However, he was terminated in 2010 anyway, and he sued the former employer for violating the whistleblower provisions of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act. The driver told the court that he honestly thought he was relaying accurate information but got the details wrong. The appeals court ruled that the driver was reporting a posed safety concern, which is protected under the federal legislation. It did not believe that the driver inaccurately described the problem.
Under federal law, companies cannot fire or retaliate against employees for reporting illegal activities or unsafe conditions in the workplace. An attorney with experience in employment law may be able to provide guidance to a client who has been terminated in such a manner.
Source: Business Insurance, "Driver fired for misreporting truck problem cause can sue for retaliation", Judy Greenwald, January 06, 2014