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I work for a trucking company as a truck driver. All dispatches

to drivers are "forced dispatches,"...
I work for a trucking company as a truck driver. All dispatches to drivers are "forced dispatches," meaning the driver must do them. Many of these dispatches violate Hours of Service regulations. The company has verbally stated to just "Do the best you can" and
"Don't make a mistake" when having to falsify a driver's log book to make delivery on time for one of these errant dispatches. The company routinely sends out dispatches they know violate Hours of Service. This company will be audited by the D.O.T. early next year. All log sheets turned in by drivers are therefore subject to fines. I contend it is a form of duress we drivers are under to deliver at an illegal time (that which violates Hours of Service) when all dispatches are forced and the company knows they violate Hours of
Service. Yet, these heavy fines await all of us from the pending audit, when the D.O.T. compares log sheets turned in to the official data contained in satellite-tracking records, as well as from electronic records of toll payments, fuel stops, etc. Again, I think a legal shield of employee duress plays a significant part here, because the penalties of refusing a forced dispatch are harsh, including termination. Who wants to have to look for a job in the current economy? What do you think?
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Answered in 6 minutes by:
9/7/2013
Dimitry K., Esq.
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 41,221
Experience: I provide employment and discrimination law advice in my own practice.
Verified
Thank you for your question. Please permit me to assist you with your concerns.

If I may ask, are you an independent contractor or an employee? Have you ever vocally contested or stated that the 'forced dispatches' that you are made to run are not permitted under law? have you ever personally falsifed records, or has that only been done by headquarters?
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Customer reply replied 4 years ago

I am an employee. I, as well as most other drivers (if not all), have falsified records. It is the "culture" of this company to drive illegally. After 18 months on this job, I have begun to send text messages contesting certain dispatches. [We recently changed methods for sending text messages, so I can't prove the messages from the older system. But, in the past, the company allowed no room for violating the dispatch.] Recently, I got them to relax the time stated for one delivery. Usually, they want it delivered as stated, per their written policy. They thereby imply their defiance of Hours of Service without speaking directly to it. This comes from the owner of the company and his two sons that manage it.

Thank you for your follow-up, Jeffrey.

Beyond contesting, in part, what else have you done? Have you reported them to Department of Transportation or other agencies? I am trying to see what deniability you may have since so far all I see is direct complicity (duress does not really work well, and I will explain why in my next post). Please advise!
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Customer reply replied 4 years ago

I understand. I am considering writing to the D.O.T. because they are the ones that will be doing the audit. This company is severe in its violations, and it needs to be shut down. This "culture" of cutting corners on regulations extends to maintenance of their trucks, which their own mechanics perform. The repairs are often intentionally avoided and covered up (as in disabling a warning light so it can't light up its warning, as opposed to fixing the core problem with the vehicle). This is a wildly run trucking company that is on a collision course with a calamitous consequence.

Jeffrey,

One final question if I may ask. How many employees does this company currently have on the payroll?
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Customer reply replied 4 years ago

They have about forty drivers, an office staff of about five or six and about three or four mechanics.

Thank you for your follow-up, Jeffrey.

The reason I asked is because 'duress' ultimately does not work--there is no overt threat that you listed of force or threat of force. Being terminated, if you are 'at will', is always a possibility even for without cause. But what is possible is to make a formal report to the D.O.T. and seek protections as a 'whistleblower', something that you would be granted if you can show that you are directly reporting illegal or fraudulent activity that is caused by your employer to the correct regulatory agencies. This protection grants you some rights from ensuring that the employer cannot simply terminate you outright since doing so will give you a basis to file suit for damages. It also places you in a position where your legitimate concerns are made public and you are essentially on record in contesting the actions of the employer. This is a far more practical approach to consider and while it can create serious stress and concerns, this will grant you the protection needed to go forward.

Good luck.

Dimitry K., Esq.
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 41,221
Experience: I provide employment and discrimination law advice in my own practice.
Verified
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