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Monday, November 2, 2009

Its over

I received a call today from my attorney, the news is the Supreme Court of Appeals in Nebraska ruled in our favor and dismissed the cross appeal from Drivers Management Inc. Although, excitement of it finally being done and decided the victory is bittersweet. I am happy that with this decision that another driver or employee might have a better chance of fighting Goliath. That being fired and being denied benefits because if you weren't fired you would receive benefits isn't an excuse to defy logic. I am happy that the highest court in Nebraska found in favor of my case. I am forever grateful for my attorney and her law firm listening to me and even though money wise I was a low value case it was the principle of the whole matter that they took it in the first place after so many others turned me down.

I was on Social Security Ticket to Work program where you still receive benefits while you train to work. I thought my benefits ended in January but they actually ended in December and I am still paying them back for the one month they over paid me. Meaning for a month I was really out there on my own making my own wages. I really hope one day I will have that wonderful feeling of being independent because right now it just stinks.

I miss the road plain and simple, I miss the sound of the truck and the life that truck driving provided me. I miss the nearly $1000 a week in income that I once made and the ability to have a life. There is something about truck driving that I never knew would of made such a huge imprint in my life. It wasn't the people even though you would meet those from all over each with their own story. It wasn't traveling all over the United States and seeing places you would of never had seen before. It was sitting there under 40 tons and 60 feet of pure power, the solitude of being in your home and workplace traveling at 65 mph. The pride of being a truck driver as I always kept my truck clean, my interactions professional. I wore a Werner Enterprise shirt with blue work shorts as a representation of professionalism. They didn't require you to wear it but I was a driver for Werner on a great account and I was happy. Werner wasn't a bad company to drive for and I loved working on a dedicate route. Most complaints are the same old complaints you will hear from nearly every company diver out there. Slow maintenance service, trailers from hell with tandems nearly welded in rust to the frame, poorly planned trips by the manager. Trips where you wait 5 hours to pick up a trailer and dive 60 miles so another driver can haul it to the destination thus earning you a whopping $19.80 for 7 hours of work or $2.82 per hour far less than minimum wage. I heard horror stories from drivers from companies far worse than that. Oh how I loved my Pete and she was so good to me. She didn't like to turn tight corners though and if you weren't lucky you found yourself moving 5 inches back and forth for a half an hour before you could get backed in. Driving was good and I will always miss it.

Nebraska workman's compensation does not have pain and suffering. Wouldn't matter anyways because DMI couldn't have enough money to reimburse me for the never ending days of pain. Nerve pain, I wouldn't wish it on my enemy no matter how bad they were. White hot streams of pain shooting down your neck into your back, spasms and knots under your shoulder blade twisting and turning and you can’t massage it, you can’t hold it like you do a cut and the pressure releases the pain. Sensation of stepping on nails every time you place one foot on the ground is pure torture. I can't say I have been able to get over it, sometimes all you can do is lay there and scream and cry. What I can say for those who have been injured like this is... it won't kill you and after years go by those little sharp pains just blends into a whole mass of pain still barley tolerable but yet tolerable. If you feel like not wanting to live because it is too much you can. Take it from someone who was there not imagining another day in pain and praying to die in their sleep. Get help any way you can.

I pray that another driver will never have to feel what I have felt and for those loyal professionals that they never have to feel their company fail them and abandon them when they need them most. Trucking is a great job and I hope that all those who are out there on the road have a safe winter.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Update

It has been over a year and three months since I have posted. I had forgotten I even had this blog until today while researching Werner and seeing if yet another driver has faced the same fate.

I ended up going to court in December 07 with Harris Kuhn law firm by my side. It was extremely difficult emotionally and physically. The judge ruled in my favor for the most part with 55% disability rating, back benefits, vocational rehabilitation, penalized Werner/DMI with 12,000 in attorney fees and 8,000 in penalties. Of course the case is now in appeals which could last up to two years.

I am continuing to go to college though that has been a semi-successful event. Spring semester ended up in a complete medical withdrawal so I will be attending this fall as a part time student. I recognize that I do want to continue being a productive member of society and am paying $3000 a semester to do so. Although Werner/DMI claims that i rather be on disability than to work. If that was the case then I wouldn't exert myself to the daily grind and stress that going to college demands, instead would sit day after day doing nothing. I know physical demanding jobs are out of the question, along with my already limited abilities finding a job is much harder. I am hoping with a degree I might be able to make similar to my income with Werner and also meet my limitations.

I ended up finding a doctor who really addressed the pain issues in my back. I have found some relief with Tens therapy, stretching, pressure point therapy and a huge dose of a nerve block medication. Emotionally I still battle with depression and a lost sense of self but continue to put one foot in front of another.

After over two years of battles and injustice and feeling screwed, I still miss the road. They say once it gets in you it never goes away and I really believe it is true. Had none of this had happened I would of still been trucking a long with my service dog but most likely for Darby or another company.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Im failing and he's (Service Dog) complaining


My wonderful Service Dog has been my lifeline to success.

During this difficult year he has also been my motivation to not give up no matter how hard it gets. How could I give up on him when he does his job every single day no matter what condition he himself is in. He showed me that when hospitalized for internal bruising to his kidneys from the accident and he came to me the next day from the vet slowly but still telling me he was here to do his job. He endured three days crammed between seats on a hard floor with his bruised body and yet still preformed his job as he was trained to do.

After the accident I was suffering from physical injuries as well as the mental effects of losing my job, my home, my independence and several other events. Becoming unmotivated to do anything he sat and pouted for days as he no longer was working while I remained inactive. Our bond became strained, and he became unhappy balking at everything except feeding. I was losing my partner.

My Dr and I decided even though I couldn't work that continuing to isolate myself was not in my best interest or for my Service Dog. So we started attending the community college for two hours a day and though very difficult for me my Service Dog brightened up as once again he was working! Our bond has started to become strong again and he is happier and playful once again.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

EEOC is not unbiased

There is nothing Equal with Equal Employment Opportunity commission.

Since the major violations had occurred in Omaha including my discharge I called Nebraska EO department and told them the situation, informed them I was a truck driver who was a resident of Idaho until end of August of 05 where I obtained residence in Newnan GA. Atlanta terminal was where I serviced my truck but my dispatcher was located in Omaha till July then my dispatcher was in Atlanta, Safety department was in Omaha, my checks came from Omaha, I was suspended from Omaha and fired from Omaha. Agreed that I would then file in Nebraska which gave me 300 days to file. At the time I was going through excruciating pain which eventually resulted in surgery in August and still unable to work to this day. Taking on Werner was the last of my concerns when each day I prayed I wouldn't wake up. I had also hoped Werner would see error and do the right thing and also I delayed my filing till after the Unemployment Tribunal was concluded feeling that if they did not find in my favor neither would EEOC but was still within my 300 days.

St Louis informed me that the forwarded the file to Atlanta because I lived there so it was easier to investigate the case. I talked to the investigator who said it wouldn't be for months that she investigated my case and I said when she was ready I had information concerning my case I would like to go over with her. After my initial complaint to Nebraska EEOC I was not asked a single question from the investigator concerning my case nor asked if I had any information concerning my case. I received a call saying that according to GA I have 180 days to file and none of my complaints fall within that time frame that it was untimely. But she did say Werner was helpful even though they were not required and told her they had fired 3 people who had accidents and that it was sufficient for her to say someone got into an accident and was terminated. She also started the conversation saying Werner said in December 04 you took a 3 week medical leave and I informed her no they had sent me home because they couldn't find me a trainer and why she hadn't called me back and made sure information was accurate. She said my case was dismissed due to timeliness.

I have been appealing with Atlanta office for over 4 weeks now and in contact with St Louis office and Nebraska EO. St Louis said they would take it back but could not request it. Nebraska is questioning why EEOC is cutting my time down to 180 when the complaint was within the time.

The Atlanta investigator called me this morning and advised me that it had gone through 3 levels of personnel and that they had decided to keep my case in Atlanta and that I had talked to Mr Fitzgerald which I informed her I had not talked to Mr Fitzgerald and would like to opportunity to talk to him. Still my case has been dismissed and I am stunned and don't know what else to do.

What would of been so hard for Atlanta EEOC to return the file back to St Louis EEOC? Why when you file in one state and it is sent to another state your Federal case reporting time changes. Oh yes I would have 300 days to file in Georgia if I was a Federal Employee.

What do you do when justice is dismissed by the organization created to fight discrimination and wrongful termination based on disability, retaliatory discharge(I filed a sexual harassment charge 3 weeks prior to my accident), and sex?

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Myself vs. Goliath


Who ever thinks the story about David and Goliath with the common saying the bigger they are the harder they fall hasn't been battling Werner Enterprises/Driver Management Inc for over the last year. Instead of getting better and easier the battle is getting harder with every single step. Why am I in a battle with this company you may ask? They violated what every working person wants... respect and loyalty.

I never thought I would be driving a 18wheeler after working jobs in Law Enforcement and Fire Services but fate and life seems to change our dreams. After two life changing events that ended in divorce and requiring a Service Dog to accompany me so I could function and eventually work I found myself wondering what do I do now? I want to get paid to see the country, Ill become a truck driver!

I struggled at first with my disability and working with a Service Dog but after a few months things got a little easier. I got news my grandfather was dying of cancer so I requested to be routed to Washington from Georgia. I never made it instead my life became a wreck, literally.

I didn't know it at the time but 3 hours before I was to pass on I80 in Idaho a tractor trailer had wrecked. I was the first bunch of trucks through after the road was re-opened, but as fate would have it my light load would have detrimental effects as the overweight truck before me hollered out on the CB "Watch it I just hit a slick spot. Before I had even a chance to respond my truck careened out of control and I was just a rider in store for one hell of a ride.

I remember sitting there looking at the headlights of the vehicles that was once behind me and hearing nothing. Everything surreal as each of my senses were overloaded and nothing seemed right. Then suddenly it all came back.. the sounds of buzzers, my Service Dog crying behind me, the smell of dirt and truck then PAIN. The overweight truck driver before me was on the CB calling for me and all I could say is "I hurt get help" then he said "I'm stopping Lil Dragon I will be there as fast as I can run back to you. I thought this was the worst pain I had ever felt and prayed It wouldn't get any worse but there is a different kind of pain than physical pain.

First being abandoned in Idaho with an injured service dog, a sore broken body and all your belongings and being told here is a ticket for a 3 day bus ride home and only 50lbs of your belongings with you. Now if I could even manage 50lbs of my belongings that would of been great but with an injured spine and neck and my shoulder in a sling I took10lbs home which included dog food, dog harness, change of clothes, checkbook and bills, and a few small items. Every bump, every mile was torture on both of us for three days on a Greyhound bus. They had denied my request to be flown home even after knowing about our injuries and length of travel. What made it worse is the majority of the ride the bus was packed and without paying for another ticket my Service Dog was shoved in the tight floor space and only through the kindness of some people took turns standing so he didn't have feet on top of him.

Then I became homeless with no money coming in because I was suspended without pay for 4 weeks pending the non-existent investigation of the accident. Then I was fired with the reason being "because of the accident." then when you file for unemployment they report your terminated because of misconduct and let me remind you misconduct is a willful violation or act against an employer. Only to find out in a tribunal that they changed records after you file for unemployment to cover their tracks.

And knowing your employer knowingly let you suffer for 9 months without surgery because you just weren't lucky enough to have the right case worker and told "If I had your case you would of had surgery months ago but you fell through the cracks."

Then being told you don't get disability checks from us because if you were employed with us you would be working light duty but since your not you don't get checks. Can anyone explain that one to me I would be happy to try and understand that logic. Also most employers wont employ someone with huge work restrictions.

Then by not being a lawsuit happy person believing your employer is suddenly going to understand their error and do the right thing so you wait until the 300 day to file as told by Nebraska EEOC is your time limit. Somehow your file is transferred to Georgia where they only have 180 day filing time limit so now your case is being dismissed because no charges fall within the 180 days. But thats after your ear is filled with all the statements you know are lies being told by Werner Enterprises to EEOC. Even with proof of the history of not telling the truth in the unemployment tribunal which was won and the charge of misconduct dismissed.

But being treated so wrongly by a company that you remained loyal to and worked hard for with no prior accidents, with no prior disciplinary actions and most of all the company you choose to stay with after other company's offered you more money and better benefit's and these were not your normal newbie company's but seasoned driver required but you just happened to impress the manager of a company who observes you backing into a extremely hard dock and finds out you have only been driving for 5months. But NO you believe in LOYALTY to your company and now you only wish they had some loyalty to you.. Thats the pain that hurts the most.

Now I have to fight for justice and this time I am not sure David can beat Goliath this time.