Whistleblower Retaliation Lawsuit Revived by Eighth Circuit

The Eighth Circuit recently breathed new life into a whistleblower retaliation lawsuit filed by a truck driver, Avery Wilson. Wilson alleged that he was wrongfully terminated by CTW Transportation Services after raising safety concerns, a violation of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA). The unanimous decision by a three-judge panel reversed the dismissal of Wilson's claim and called for a reevaluation of the factors contributing to the delay in administrative proceedings before the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).

Case background

Wilson began hauling freight with CTW in August 2020. Wilson alleged multiple violations of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations, which he reported to his supervisors. When these complaints went unaddressed, he filed a formal grievance in September 2020 and was terminated the following day. Wilson subsequently filed a complaint with the DOL in October 2020, alleging retaliation.

Wilson argued that the schedule set by the administrative law judge, which included closing discovery in May 2021 and scheduling a trial for July 2021, was the primary cause of any delay in reaching a decision beyond the 210-day period.

CTW Transportation Services contested Wilson's claims on procedural grounds.However, the Eighth Circuit panel determined that most of Wilson's alleged misconduct occurred after the 210-day deadline had already passed. Therefore, this behavior could not have caused the delay in the administrative proceedings. As a result, the panel vacated the district court's order dismissing the case and instructed the court to assess whether the DOL's failure to issue a final order within 210 days was due to Wilson's bad faith conduct.

If you’ve witnessed and reported safety concerns at your job, only to be retaliated against, help is available. Contact a trusted whistleblower attorney at Kardell Law Group today.