Dobbs manager claims he was fired for hiring one-handed driver

Steve Gonzalez Jun. 13, 2005, 9:57am

Dobbs Tire & Auto

The former manager of the Edwardsville Dobbs Tire & Auto Center filed a retaliatory discharge and Whistleblower Act lawsuit claiming he was terminated for hiring a one-handed shuttle driver.

In the suit filed June 10 in Madison County Circuit Court, Oliver Souffle is seeking at least $250,000 in compensatory and punitive damages from Dobbs which he claims breached its contract that allowed him to work “as long as you wish...for this firm."

Souffle was fired Feb. 14, 2005.

He claims his supervisor criticized him for hiring a physically impaired person and stated that if the company fired the employee with only one hand, Dobbs might be in legal trouble.

"We would face a lawsuit," Souffle claims his supervisor told him in December 2004.

Even though he hired a one-handed man for the shuttle driver position, Souffle claims he was capable of driving.

Souffle claims his supervisors and managers encouraged him to discriminate against the shuttle driver by cutting his hours. However, Souffle made it clear that he did not plan to engage in illegal employment practices.

“Termination of Souffle’s employment because of his providing employment opportunity to an individual with a physical impairment or handicap violated the strong public policy of the State of Illinois,” the complaint states.

Souffle claims that the Illinois Whistleblower Act makes it illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee for the employee’s refusal to participate in an activity that would result in violation of state and federal laws.

According to the complaint, Souffle has suffered lost wages, loss of benefits, emotional distress, humiliation, embarrassment and pain and suffering.

“Punitive damages are necessary and warranted as a result of Dobbs illegal and retaliatory termination of Souffle’s employment, and to deter others similarly situated and so inclined,” the complaint states.

Souffle claims at the time of his dismissal he was earning $84,000 annually and additional compensation in the form of a trip to Mexico, plus other bonuses.

He is represented by Lee Baron of Alton. The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge George Moran Jr.

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