Lawsuit accuses trucking company of firing trucker for being gay
September 25, 2020
A lawsuit is accusing Roaring Spring, Pa.-based Smith Transport of sexual harassment of a trucker based on the driver’s gender and sexuality, violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
On Sept. 4, Vincent Ambrosy-Wagner filed a lawsuit against Smith Transport in a U.S. District Court in the Western District of Pennsylvania. According to the first amended complaint, the trucker was subjected to disparate treatment and persistent sexual harassment for being gay. He also accuses the trucking company of firing him in retaliation for reporting the harassment to the human resources department.
Ambrosy-Wagner began working for Smith Transport in September 2019 as a trucker for its oil and gas division. His contract included a weekly salary of $1,250 and a four days on/three days off schedule. When hired, Ambrosy-Wagner listed a man as an emergency contact, who was identified as his “boyfriend” under the relationship section of the form.
From that point on, the complaint alleges, Ambrosy-Wagner was disliked by his supervisor, Dominic Fredo. Early into his employment, the driver was told by Fredo he “had a s***** attitude” and “wouldn’t last long” at Smith Transport. Ambrosy-Wagner insists he was “a pleasant person and a hard worker.”
The lawsuit also accuses more tenured employees of making Ambrosy-Wagner feel unwelcome. One Smith Transport employee told him he was worthless and his time with the company would likely be short considering everyone disliked new people, the complaint states.
The lawsuit also alleges that same employee declared he hated gay individuals and that he “proudly proclaimed that he was racist, prejudiced and bigoted.” Subsequently, Ambrosy-Wagner reported the employee’s behavior. However, he was told to discuss the matter with Fredo, who allegedly ignored the concerns.
Additionally, the trucker alleges that he was told to do different things by each trainer. According to the complaint, Ambrosy-Wagner has numerous years of experience in the industry. He was “perplexed” by how each trainer did things different ways based upon past experience.
Eventually, the driver completed the training program and began standard work as a trucker for Smith Transport with a normal schedule.
On one cold day in November 2019, Ambrosy-Wagner allegedly received a text message from another supervisor, Oscar Dozer. The employee he had issues with before had reported him for not wearing his mandated hearing protection. However, Ambrosy-Wagner contends that he was wearing the earplugs. Due to cold weather, he wore multiple layers of clothing, including hoods and a hardhat, claiming it would have been impossible for anyone to see whether or not he had earplugs in.
According to Ambrosy-Wagner, Dozer ignored his claim that he was wearing earplugs. After an expletive-laden follow-up text from Dozer, no action was taken that day. However, the trucker wasn’t dispatched to come into work for Smith Transport over the following several days.
Nearly one week later, Ambrosy-Wagner was called into the office for a meeting with the safety operations manager and Fredo. It was then he was told he was not dispatched for work because he was suspended for not wearing ear coverings. The trucker said he was never told of any suspension. Allegedly, the manager and supervisor did not allow Ambrosy-Wagner to tell his side of his story. According to the complaint, he was then fired on the spot.
In January, Ambrosy-Wagner filed a complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission.
Six months later, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued a Notice of Right to Sue under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The complaint accuses Smith Transport of three separate violations of Title VII: discrimination, retaliation and hostile work environment. LL