September 5th, 2012

A truck driver is suing his former employer, saying that DMS Express refused to allow him a reasonable accommodation so that he could treat his diabetes and anxiety properly, and that he was wrongfully terminated in retaliation for voicing his concerns.

The dispute arose when the driver asked his employer if he could take a short break and drive about four miles to a nearby pharmacy to fill a prescription before he started a long drive across several states. He says he made the request two days in advance and that it was denied by supervisors who insisted that he get on the road as quickly as possible. When the driver offered an alternative time that he might take a break to pick up medications he was denied again.

The truck driver complained that the request for him to continue driving without his medication was unsafe and was ultimately terminated.

He says that denying him the short break violated Department of Transportation regulations that limit the number of consecutive hours a commercial driver can be on the road.

It is illegal for an employer to fire an employee for raising legitimate concerns about safety or other potentially hazardous or illegal conduct on the part of the company. Employees who report widespread safety issues may be protected under federal whistleblower protection laws. Employees who are fired for any illegal reason can seek redress through a wrongful termination lawsuit. Many such employees choose to ask for compensation for lost wages or to be reinstated to their previous position. In cases where there are major safety violations or systematic discrimination, the demands in a wrongful termination lawsuit might also include requirements that the employer take action to prevent similar occurrences in the future.

More information about employee rights in Minnesota is available on our wrongful termination page.

Source: Courthouse News Service, “Trucking Firm of the Week,” Chris Fry, Sept. 5, 2012.

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