Kelly Holleran Sep. 25, 2012, 11:24am
A Port Arthur man claims he lost his job after his bosses allegedly retaliated against him for refusing to drive a defective garbage truck.
David Jones filed a lawsuit Sept. 12 in Jefferson County District Court against the city of Port Arthur.
In his complaint, Jones, a garbage truck driver, alleges he received orders on May 16 to not drive any defective garbage trucks.
Media reports state that the city of Port Arthur had a series of mechanical breakdowns in its garbage fleet. At one point, 7 out of 10 trucks were out of service.
So, when Jones was assigned a truck that he claims was leaking potentially flammable hydraulic oil on May 23, he refused to drive it, according to the complaint.
“Mr. Jones orally stated to his supervisor that he did not want to operate truck number 1713 because of the potential safety hazard that the leak posed to the public and the driver of the truck,” the suit states.
Because of Jones’s refusal to drive the truck, he was sent home early, the complaint says.
Angered, Jones posted a video to YouTube, condemning the city’s actions.
“The video sharply criticized the city’s management and how it handles race relations among supervisors and workers,” the suit states.
In addition to posting the video, Jones claims he reported unsafe working conditions to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
After conducting an investigation, the federal agency found the city in violation of an ordinance requiring it to collect solid waste at least once per week, according to the complaint.
On June 8, following his complaint and video, Jones was terminated from his job with the city, the complaint says.
Jones filed an appeal of his termination on June 11. During the appeal committee hearing, city managers admitted to firing Jones because of his failure to drive a defective truck and due to his video posting, according to Jones’s current complaint.
Although the appeals committee was aware of the reasons behind Jones’s firing, it upheld the termination, the suit states.
Jones claims his termination was in violation of the Texas Whistleblower Act.
Because of his termination, Jones’s financial security has been jeopardized, the complaint says.
In his complaint, Jones seeks reimbursement of his direct, actual and consequential damages, plus pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages in excess of the jurisdictional limits of Jefferson County District Court.
The case has been assigned to Judge Donald Floyd, 172nd District Court.
Case No. E193-143