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Employee fired for accidents, behavior not protected activity


A circuit court held that an employee failed to show he was terminated in retaliation for filing a complaint with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

In Budri v. Administrative Review Board, a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously denied on Tuesday the employee’s petition for review of the denial of his whistleblower retaliation claims.

Adriano Budri was hired as a driver by FirstFleet Inc. of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, but was fired at the end of his first month of employment. He filed a complaint with OSHA, alleging safety violations, and later charged that FirstFleet’s termination of his employment violated the whistleblower clause of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act.

The STAA ensures that employees in the commercial motor transportation industry who make safety complaints do not suffer adverse employment consequences as a result of their actions.

An administrative law judge granted summary judgment to FirstFleet on Mr. Budri’s claims, and he petitioned the Administrative Review Board for review.

The board affirmed the judge’s ruling, finding that, in the one month Mr. Budri was employed by FirstFleet, he “caused several accidents, failed to report accidents, failed to deliver a time-sensitive order, drove on a flat tire to a truck stop when he had been told to wait for a service crew to repair the tire, and had a customer ban him from its facility for refusing to follow instructions.” The board also noted that the judge found “undisputed evidence” that FirstFleet “immediately” remedied a complaint made by Mr. Budri and took no action against him when he engaged in other alleged protected activity. Ms. Budri then petitioned the 5th Circuit for review.

The appellate court denied his petition. Although Mr. Budri argued that the board failed to consider some instances of his protected activity, the court found that Mr. Budri failed to explain why the board’s decision to waive away these arguments was arbitrary or capricious.

The court noted that Mr. Budri’s termination took place after the series of errors he made during his only month of employment, not directly after any protected activity. As a result, the court found no genuine dispute of material fact and denied the petition for review.

The attorney for Mr. Budri was not listed in the complaint and therefore could not be reached.




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