Lawsuit: Trucking company fired driver for not texting and driving

Posted at 4:27 PM, Apr 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-27 20:13:57-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV)--A lawsuit filed in San Diego Superior Court this week against a local trucking company is raising questions about public safety on San Diego's roadways.

Thomas Aylott, 53, is suing his former employer Western Transportation, which has a branch in San Diego, claiming he was fired for refusing to text and drive while on the job. 

"We have 80,000 pounds of steel down the road, being driven by truckers driving and texting, even required to do so, that's really scary for all of us," said Dan Gilleon, Aylott's lawyer.

"One of my biggest fears as safety manager is having to go to that accident where we seriously injure somebody or kill somebody," Aylott said. 

In March and April, Aylott claims a supervisor texted him twice while he was driving. The texts, Aylott said, went unnoticed until Aylott noticed them after stopping his vehicle.

Despite asking his boss to call him so he could use Bluetooth and not be in violation of California law nor his company's "hands-free" policy, Aylott said his supervisor told him "get with the program" and to text and drive "like everyone else."

Aylott refused and he said he was fired a week later.

Western Trucking's legal representative John Sullivan offered the following statement in response to 10News reporter Michael Chen's inquiry: 

"Commodity Trucking has a strict policy prohibiting texting and driving. The company is committed to safety and has an excellent safety record. Due to the pending litigation posture of this dispute, I have advised company personnel not to comment at this time. When parties to litigation find their claims lack factual and legal support, they often approach media outlets to pressure their opponents into paying nuisance settlements. I believe this is why Mr. Aylott and his counsel approached the press in this case. 

Mr. Aylott was not terminated because he refused to text while driving. His claim to the contrary is devoid of evidentiary support and will be defeated at trial. We are confident the company's safety policies and record will likewise be fully vindicated."

Sandy Coronilla is a KGTV digital producer. Follow her @10NewsSandy