A Lakeside man is claiming that its managers responded against him and fired him because he refused to text and drive.
Thomas R. Aylott, 53, filed suit Tuesday in San Diego Superior Court, accusing Commodity Trucking Acquisition LLC of Fontana of age discrimination, wrongful termination and retaliation for the employee’s refusal to break the law.
According to Commodity Trucking Acquisition’s lawsuit, Aylott did not drive a big rig but often drove to different job sites in his role as a project and safety manager. He claims he was twice admonished by his manager for not reading or responding to his manager’s texts while he was driving for work. According to the lawsuit Aylott’s manager told him earlier this month that he should text and drive “like everyone else.” Aylott complained to upper management and was fired a week later because his refusal to text and drive showed he was “too old to change his ways.”
Aylott’s lawyer, Dan Gilleon, said Wednesday that his client’s experience calls into question whether the company is taking road safety seriously.
“This lawsuit is important because, first, it might result in this particular company changing its ways, but also to set precedent such that truckers and trucking companies might factor in the substantial costs of lawsuits when considering whether to enforce the law against texting and driving,” Gilleon said by email.
John F. Sullivan III, Commodity Trucking’s chief operating and financial officer, said in a statement Wednesday that Aylott is a disgruntled employee, and the facts don’t appear to support his claims.
“After a preliminary investigation it appears the allegations in the complaint have no merit,” Sullivan said in the statement. “The company has a strict cell-phone use policy which includes the restriction of texting and driving. Due to the nature of our business and our commitment to safety, this policy in monitored and enforced on a daily basis, the company is confident that when it gets its day in court the facts will prove that the company did nothing wrong.”
Texting and driving is not only illegal in California, but authorities say it has led to numerous fatal collisions.
Department of Transportation data shows three unsafe driving violations for Commodity Trucking Acquisition in the 24 months ending March 31, 2017. The violations were not determinded as acute or critical. They were for failing to obey a traffic control device, speeding 6-10 mph over the speed limit, and speeding 11-14 mph over the speed limit.
Aylott’s lawsuit seeks unstated damages, punitive damages, court costs and attorney’s fees, and other damages according to proof.