Toll in the clear over Perez, Chavez sackings

Toll scores victory in stoush with Teamsters after NLRB dismisses allegations the company acted unlawfully in firing two drivers

Toll in the clear over Perez, Chavez sackings
Toll in the clear over Perez, Chavez sackings
By Brad Gardner | June 13, 2012

Toll has been given the all clear for sacking two of its US truck drivers earlier this year, with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) dismissing allegations the company acted unlawfully.

The NLRB recently ruled there was a lack of evidence to prove Toll sacked Xiomara Perez and Steven Chavez for their union sympathies.

Both drivers were part of a group pushing for union representation at Toll’s Los Angeles facilities, and the Teamsters filed unfair labour practice allegations against the transport and logistics conglomerate when they were shown the door.

Perez lost her job in March after Toll claimed she parked her rig on the side of a highway in a no-parking zone to buy food at a McDonald’s restaurant.

Chavez was given his marching orders the same month when he left work to renew his medical certificate, which US commercial drivers must do to stay on the road.

Toll says the driver acted against company policy by taking a truck and leaving his work site without approval. It says Chavez had previously received multiple warnings for similar breaches and was issued his final warning in February.

"The latest rulings prove, as we have said all along, that the Teamsters’ campaign was purposely misleading," Toll Managing Director Brian Kruger says.

"It is disappointing these claims have been believed by so many, including media outlets that publicised these baseless accusations as fact before investigations by the regulator had been completed."

Perez says she pulled over because she felt ill and needed to use a restroom. Toll says its investigation showed she bought food and did not use the bathroom facilities at McDonald’s.

Perez and Chavez believed they were targeted for supporting the Teamsters. The union is currently negotiating wages and conditions with Toll on behalf of its drivers, who voted on April 11 for the Teamsters to represent them.

"I’ve been fighting for safer and more just working conditions for so long. They know I would vote yes [on April 11] so they sacked me before I could exercise my legal rights," Chavez said in March.

The latest ruling adds to other allegations made against Toll that have been dismissed, including retaliating against employees who supported the Teamsters and for sacking staff in December 2011 for their union sympathies.

The NLRB is yet to rule on a consolidated complaint its Los Angeles division issued earlier this year. The matter is due to be heard before a panel of judges at NLRB headquarters in Washington.

In the complaint, Acting Regional Director for the NLRB’s Los Angeles region Mori Rubin alleges Toll "has been interfering with, restraining, and coercing employees" in violation of the National Labor Relations Act.

Toll has constantly denied it has done anything wrong and has labelled the allegations "unsubstantiated claims".

"The NLRB has not yet set a deadline regarding this [matter], and Toll looks forward to presenting evidence to disprove all allegations if and when the NLRB decides to proceed," the company says in a statement.

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