Thomas Aylott, a 53-year-old, is suing Commodity Trucking in San Diego Supreme Court. Aylott filed a claim with the Supreme Court in April, alleging that the trucking company fired him for refusing to text while driving.
Aylott alleges that he was texted twice by a supervisor while he was driving. He didn’t respond to the texts until he safely stopped his vehicle. He alleges that the supervisor scolded him, telling him to “get with the program.” Aylott claims that he was told to text and drive despite it being against California state law to do so.
He alleges that he went to upper management to file a complaint and was told he was “too old to change his ways.”
The state’s Wireless Communications Device Law allows for hands-free devices to be used, but states “no driver in California may write, send or read text messages while behind the wheel.” The first offence for breaking the law includes a $20 fine. The second offense includes a $50 fine.
Aylott, adhering to the state’s law, requested that his supervisor call him so that he can use Bluetooth. Aylott continued to refuse to text and drive, leading to his termination a week later. Commodity Trucking states that the company has a strict policy against texting and driving.
The company states that Aylott was not fired for his refusal to text and drive. The company claims that Aylott’s claims lack the proper evidence and support to win at trial. The company believes Aylott went to media outlets to pressure the company into making a settlement offer.
Aylott’s lawsuit claims that he was wrongfully terminated, suffered retaliation for breaking the law and that the company discriminated against him due to his age.
Commodity Trucking employs 100 drivers.
Aylott was not a company driver, although he often drove to different job sites. Aylott was a safety and project manager that was reprimanded twice for not responding to his employer’s texts while behind the wheel.
Commodity Trucking has been involved in eight crashes since March 31, 2015. The crash data, provided by the Department of Transportation, does not provide data on the cause of the crashes. The party at fault is also not listed.
Aylott is seeking court costs, attorney fees, punitive damages and unspecified damages, according to the court filing.