» Court Finds for Wrongfully Fired Employee

Court Finds for Wrongfully Fired Employee

The Austin Court of Appeals found that an employee who was fired for refusing to illegally drive an unsafe commercial vehicle can collect punitive damages. Austin employment attorney Gregory D. Jordan, who represented the employee, offers pertinent comment.

Austin, TX (Law Firm Newswire) June 7, 2010 - A recent opinion from the Texas Court of Appeals, Third District, at Austin ruled that an employee who is fired for refusing to commit a criminal act can recover punitive damages.

Safeshred, Inc. fired Louis Martinez after he refused to drive a commercial vehicle he

Austin Business Litigation Lawyer and Employment Attorney, Gregory D. Jordan

Austin Business Litigation Lawyer and Employment Attorney, Gregory D. Jordan

found to be unsafe and noncompliant with federal and state regulations. Martinez sued Safeshred, alleging he had been terminated for refusing to commit an illegal act. The initial lawsuit filed by Martinez asserted an exception to the at-will employment doctrine. After a jury trial, the trial court entered judgment awarding Martinez $7,569.18 in economic damages for lost wages and benefits, $10,000 in compensatory damages for non-economic losses, including mental anguish, and $200,000 in exemplary or punitive damages. Safeshred appealed, and the appellate court affirmed the awards of economic and exemplary damages and reversed the award of compensatory damages for non-economic losses.

“I think it’s crucial that an employee should be able to recover punitive damages if he or she is fired for refusing to commit a criminal act,” explained Austin employment lawyer Gregory D. Jordan who represented Martinez, “That type of conduct by an employer is despicable. The Austin Court of Appeals rightly recognized the important deterrent effect of punitive damages.”

Martinez began work delivering documents for Safeshred’s sister company, Safesite, on September 25, 2007. After only three days of work, Martinez was promoted to a position driving commercial vehicles for Safeshred. At Safeshred, Martinez’s responsibilities included driving an eighteen-wheeler hauling a flatbed trailer stacked high with 18-foot long steel upright and heavy metal shelves.

On numerous occasions, Martinez reported safety violations in the condition of the flatbed trailer or in the way in which the steel uprights and shelves were secured to the flatbed trailer by his employer, but his employer consistently told him to go ahead and haul the load. The situation grew progressively worse, as Martinez was asked by Safeshred to deliver increasingly dangerous and illegal loads of uprights and shelving.

When Martinez determined that it was simply too dangerous to drive one of the illegal loads, he refused to drive the truck and his employer fired him. When the employer had another person drive the truck, the 18-foot long steel uprights and metal shelves broke loose and crashed through the rear window of the cab. Amazingly, no one was killed.

To learn more, contact Austin employment lawyer and Austin business attorney, Gregory D. Jordan or visit http://www.theaustintriallawyer.com.

Law Offices of Gregory D. Jordan
5608 Parkcrest Drive, Suite 310
Austin, Texas 78731
Call: 512-419-0684

  • Texas drill pipe supplier files lawsuit against company alleging breach of contract
    A breach of contract lawsuit was filed by a Houston, Texas drill pipe supplier against a North Dakota company. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas Aug. 31 by Vallourec Drilling Products USA Inc. (Vallourec) against B.J.’s Drill Stem Testing, Inc. d/b/a Drill Tech LLC (Drill Tech). [...]
  • Texas drilling company sued for employment discrimination
    A lawsuit has been filed accusing a Texas drilling company of racial discrimination. Andrew Collins filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division, alleging that Noble Drilling violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Collins, an African American resident of Harris County, claims that he was subjected [...]
  • Texas Appeals Court rules against lessee in offset well dispute
    The Fourth Court of Appeals in San Antonio, Texas found that a lessee had failed to prove that it had drilled an offset well as required by oil and gas leases. In the case, Shirley Adams et al. v. Murphy Exploration & Production Co.-USA, the lessors and royalty owners sued lessee Murphy for breach of [...]

See other news sources publishing this article. BETA | Tags: , , , , ,



Get headlines from Law Firm Newswire sent right to your inbox.

* indicates required