California OSHA Labor Lawsuit Seeks to Hold Defendant to Original Settlement


Los Angeles, CA: A California whistleblower who sued his former employer over unsafe working conditions and won a settlement has yet to see a dime after his former employer folded the company and reorganized operations under a different name, allegedly to avoid complying with the settlement. Undaunted, the US Department of Labor has launched a California OSHA labor lawsuit against the former employer of Herbert Alexander.

Alexander, the whistleblower who brought a lawsuit alleging violations of statutes governed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), complained to his employer following one of his runs as a trucker with the firm, that his rig was leaking oil, was fitted with bald tires and was infested with bedbugs. The trucker noted that he was forced to sleep in motels while on the road, in an effort to secure enough sleep to drive his rig safely.

When Alexander complained to his employer following his return from the road in July of 2013, he claims to have been effectively fired. Alexander claimed in his California OSHA whistleblower lawsuit that his employer docked his pay for the cost of repairs to the truck as well as his accommodations. Further, the company refused to provide him with additional routes, and thus the work dried up.

According to court documents, the defendant, Skyway Inc., entered into a settlement agreement with Alexander in 2013. However, it is alleged the settlement was never honored by Skyway Inc., which reportedly ceased operations only to be reborn under a different name, Skyway Group of Companies Inc. (Skyway Group).

Alexander, together with the US Department of Labor, holds that a company cannot escape a liability through a simple reorganization. “[Skyway Group] has the same owners and officers including [President Rajinder Banghu], operates for the same business purpose, using the same or a similar business model out of the Fontana truck yard, and the same corporate logo and motto as Skyway,” the complaint said. “As the alter ego and/or successor-in-interest to Skyway, Skyway Group is subject to enforcement of the Secretary’s final order, just as Skyway was and is.”

As part of the California OSHA lawsuit settlement, Alexander was to be re-instated as a driver with the firm, and to have his back wages paid. However, Skyway Inc. ceased operations and suspended its corporate registration for the state of California.

The DOL says the defendant cannot employ those changes as a viable reason to escape their obligation to their former driver, who feared for his safety and others on the road due to the alleged condition of the truck he was provided to drive by his employer.

The latest California OSHA lawsuit, filed by the Department of Labor on behalf of Alexander, seeks to hold Skyway Group to the original 2013 settlement that was allegedly never honored.

The case is Thomas Perez v. Skyway Inc., Case number 5:15-cv-01995, in the US District Court for the Central District of California.

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