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Truck Drivers Right to Due Process

May
20,
2009
2

JusticeWhat is “Due Process?” The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides that no person shall be “deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”   If a public employee has a property interest in a job, he or she cannot be discharged without due process.  Due process requires that the employee be given notice of the reason for being discharged and a fair hearing at which to contest the decision.

But when is a job considered “property”?   An employee has a property interest in a job if there is:

  • a written or implied contract granting the employee a property interest in the job;
  • if past practice of the employer shows that the employee has a property interest in the job; or
  • if a statute gives the employee a property interest in the job

Therefore,  if a truck driver, already employed by a trucking company, re-takes the DOT physical exam and passes, and the medical doctor signs off on the medical card, would this not constitute “property interest” on part of the driver?   Shouldn’t the driver have the right to due process? How could the trucking company terminate the driver on grounds of “health condition” when the driver had been given the green light from the DOT medical examiner?

To make matters worse, this driver has not been able to find an attorney that will stand up for this drivers’ “Due Process” rights.

The driver sent me an email explaining the situation.  After the email, is my short reply to him with links I thought would be helpful.  In posting this, I hope that perhaps our readers could provide some insight into this matter, and more importantly, an attorney will step up and help this driver in need.

Here’s the email:

Mr. Smith,

First of all, let me introduce myself.  My name is John M. and I am a former CDL Class A tractor-trailer driver and a resident of Cocoa, FL.  I started driving big trucks fairly late in life, at age 58 and made it to 60 when my world and my life, most assuredly, fell apart.

I hope that I am not being presumptuous in taking this liberty to share my story with you, Mr. Smith.  It is a story that my former driver-colleagues (the survivors, I call them) have taken great interest in, for even the old-timers have never witnessed anything quite like what has transpired with me.  If you do continue to read this email and find it of interest, you are quite free to share this email with any of the many contacts in the trucking industry that you’ve developed over the years.  They may also find it interesting and perhaps even thought-provoking.

My story, in its simplest and most basic form, is nothing more than this:

Come time to renew my DOT physical certificate, I passed the physical and have (since the very day that I passed my physical) been barred from making a living with my former employer.  Ultimately, I was terminated by this company under the general guise of “your recent health condition” as the termination letter stated.

If you’re like most people, Mr. Smith, you’re probably saying to yourself “there must be more to this story.”  Indeed, there is MUCH more to the story, none of which, I submit to you, has the first thing to do with my health or any so-called “health condition” cited in my letter of termination.  It has everything to do with how people more powerful than myself, for whatever their reasons and motives, can, through force and coercion, herd a perfectly healthy man into an impossible corner (at least, it ended up being impossible for me for a number of different reasons) from which there is no escape.  And then actually destroy his/her very health and well-being because they stole their very livelihood away from them.

I’m not trying to be overly-dramatic when I use such words.  This is exactly what has happened to me and it could well end up happening to many others in the trucking community if the mad-dogs-of-war against truckers continue to roam freely and consume their victims.

As with just about any topic concerning this industry, literally, ALL responsibility and burdens are being placed directly on the shoulder of truckers. Whether it be my circumstance, the Virginia parking problem … ANYTHING. Everything falls, all consequences, fall on the shoulders of the beleaguered trucker.  Like so many others, I was aloof as to what truckers actually go through until I, too, finally experienced strapping on 80,000 lbs. of tractor/trailer and freight and then let out the clutch.  Now I’ve driven more than a few miles in the shoes of these remarkable men and women.  They are truly the REAL heartbeat of America.

I first learned of you and your work while researching for some material that would, hopefully, bolster a case for what ended up being, I certainly believe, wrongful termination from my former employer, which is a large Florida- based trucking firm. The particular article that I took away from your site as a result of that initial search was the following …

Top 10 Causes of Truck Accidents

After that initial introduction to your web site, I did, indeed, purchase your e-book on 17 January 2009.  It is a well-done and most valuable publication, Mr. Smith.  One that I so wish I’d had before embarking on this, as it turns out, relatively short-lived career.  You’ve provided a valuable service and much valuable information for not only those thinking about pursuing a trucking career but for those already involved.  You are to be congratulated.  (You are more than welcome to use my words as a testimonial, if you so wish to, Mr. Smith.)

Anyway, my reasoning for seeking out such information, in the first place, was my hope to demonstrate the utter hypocrisy of those destroying my life.  Perhaps expose the many hypocrisies that exist within trucking in general.  The trucking industry, for sure, has some legitimate problems that do, indeed, need to be addressed, as can be gleaned from your link just above.  All that I was, and still am, trying to prove is that, again, trucking does have its unique problems.  I just wasn’t one of them – and I say that humbly.  But I was “converted” into a “problem” … where NO problem whatsoever ever existed to start with, by any rational, reasonable and everyday common sense measures.

Let’s just say that, like airline pilots who carry “loss of license” insurance, I wish that I’d had a ton of such an insurance policy.  To my knowledge, though, no such insurance exists in the trucking industry.  Puh-lenty of ways to lose one’s license. Just not many, if any, “antidotes” for such an eventuality, or so it seems.

Believe me when I say, Mr. Smith, the No. 1 cause of truck accidents cited in your posting – Prescription Drug Use 26% – is a very large component of my story. Not because I was on any prescription drugs – but because of my refusal to be “medicated” by the world of Big Pharma!  Please understand that the promotion of the wonderful world of prescription drugs, by parties who held my very driving career in the palm of their hands, came AFTER I returned from the medical examiner’s office … with a passed medical certificate in my hand!

Attached to this email, Mr. Smith, is what I passed along to one of Orlando’s largest and well-known law firms, just last week.  Hopefully, it will fill in some more blanks for you. All that it availed me was to incur my fourth rejection from as many different law firms who, supposedly, claimed to have expertise in “employment law”.  For some reason, when I approach them and they get a glimpse at my case, they all of a sudden really don’t seem to practice employment law anymore.  I’m not sure what to make of all these rejections, quite honestly.

So at this juncture, since it doesn’t appear that I’ll ever find legal relief, I wanted to present my story to you, Mr. Smith.  Again, I hope that I haven’t been presumptuous in doing so.  I fully realize that this email has already grown fairly long.  For that I apologize but there is no easy or simple way to explain the full story on the quick and short.  Still, it is my hope that you’ve found my words to of potential trucking community interest. I will certainly answer any further questions that you, or anybody else, may for me.

I have come to believe that I may possibly have a “due process” violation case. All that I think that I can say for sure, Mr. Smith, is that common, “everyday people”, such as my former driver colleagues, think that I was treated unjustly and unfairly.  If they’re correct in their assessment, then I want to see what I can do to make sure that nobody else in the trucking community suffers as I have. None of this had to happen, for there never was a problem to start with.  Until one was “manufactured”.  I wouldn’t be writing this email if this “manufacturing” of non-existent problems had not happened.

I passed the physical … now, let me get back to work.  Just that simple. That’s all that should have transpired.  But it was not to be … and my life is in absolute tatters now.

If you’re down “here” now, Mr. Smith, I can’t thank you enough for taking your valuable time to hear me out.  Once again, I consider this letter public now, if you wish to pass it along to others for their assessment.  Again, I’ll be glad to answer any question that you or anyone else may have for me.  Certainly, any advice and counsel would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you for everything that you do for all truckers, Mr. Smith.

Respectfully yours,

John M.
Cocoa, Florida
emailchamp7eca@bellsouth.net

My reply:
Hi John:

I am working on posting your story to our blog and through some research, I found the below site while investigating the “due process” legalities:

FindLaw.Com

My hope is that perhaps an attorney in Constitutional Law may be able to help you. Here is a list of such attorneys in or near your location:

Florida Attorneys

Hope this helps,

Allen

If there is an attorney out there that believe they can help this driver, please contact him through his email.

Thanks,

Allen Smith

© 2009, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.

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By: Allen Smith

Allen Smith is a 37 year veteran who started at an early age in a household goods family moving business. He began driving straight trucks in 1977 and moved to the big rigs in 1982. His experience within the industry includes; owner operator, company driver, operations manager, and owner of a long distance HHG moving business, taking many of the long haul moves himself when needed. Allen Smith, a truck driver advocate who is driven by the desire to help others succeed within an industry where injustice, unrewarded sacrifice, and lack of respect and recognition exists. Allen and his wife Donna are hosts of Truth About Trucking ”Live” on Blog Talk Radio. Other websites include AskTheTrucker, TruckingSocialMedia, NorthAmericanTruckingALerts, TruthAboutTrucking, and many Social Media websites. In 2011 Allen and Donna hosted the first Truck Driver Social Media Convention, designed to create unity and solutions for the trucking industry. This is now being extended through the North American Trucking Alerts network as those within the industry join forces for the betterment of the industry. Allen strongly supports other industry advocates who are also stepping up to the plate to help those who share honesty, guidance and direction. He believes that all those involved in trucking need to be accountable for their part within the industry, including drivers, carriers, brokers, shippers, receivers, etc… The list of supporters and likeminded people grow daily, networking together and sharing thoughts and ideas for the betterment of trucking. He has coined the popular phrase "Raising the standards of the trucking industry"

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2 Responses to Truck Drivers Right to Due Process. - Post a Comment

  1. Carlin

    This is a question for Larry Dafern…..I was terminated from employment with a trucking company because I failed a drug test. Circumstances were I took my girlfriend’s Aderall medication by mistake because we use plastic pill dispensers, and picked hers up by accident, and realized it after the fact. This was on a Sunday evening. Coincidentally, I was given a random drug test on Tuesday of that week by my employer. The results were given to me this past week, and I failed because the medications I took in error were still in my system. I am not a drug addict, and this was just a mistake. However, now this is on my DOT record, and possibly DAC record, and they will require me to attend SAP counseling and pay various fees to get my license back…..all after I did nothing wrong. I told the truth and tried to plead my case to the medical officer and DOT contact to no avail. They are not willing to give me a second test or chance. Up until this time, I had a 100% perfect record with this company. I want to win a case against them for mental anguish and loss of ability to gain future employment. Can anyone help me? Thank you.

  2. Allen Smith

    Hey Carlin: Your best chance is to contact the Truckers Justice Center and speak with them. They have been helping truckers for 20 years, and they will be able to determine if you have a case or not. Often, they work on a contingency basis as well …

    http://www.truckersjustice.com

    Allen

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