Truck driver’s employer denies liability in suit over alleged unpaid wages

Heather Isringhausen Gvillo Jul. 14, 2015, 10:22am


The defendant in a truck driver’s lawsuit alleging unpaid wages and wrongful termination for refusing to disobey traffic laws has denied liability and claims the plaintiff has already been paid what was owed to him under Illinois wage laws.

Nicholas Dafoe filed his March 12 lawsuit against Dustin Neff, doing business as Neff Hauling, and Republic Services Inc. He claims he was employed by both defendants as a truck driver and hauler from July 2013 until June 2014.

According to the complaint, his duties included transporting construction and landscaping materials such as paint cans, siding, concrete mix, cinder blocks, tree limbs and shrubbery.

Dafoe claims he was requested to clean Neff’s truck and trailer without compensation on several occasions, totaling about 12 hours of labor each time. As a result, he claims he is entitled to approximately $192 for the unpaid wages. He argues that the time spent on the task exceeded 40 hours, meaning he is entitled to $1,872 in damages for unpaid overtime, liquidated damages, interests and fees, the suit states.

Dafoe argues that he was unable to cash regular paychecks totaling $2,480 due to the employer’s insufficient funds. He also claims his employer unlawfully deducted $2,641 in expenses from his wages.

Then on June 26, 2014, Dafoe says he was fired following a conversation with another employee, where the plaintiff claims he was instructed to exceed the speed limit and “drive faster,” the suit states.

According to the complaint, Dafoe was terminated in violation of Illinois public policy for road safety.

Allied Services denied the allegations in its April 24 answer to the complaint. In its affirmative defenses against Dafoe, the defendant claims he cannot recover anything from Republic because his alleged damages were not caused by the acts or omissions of the defendant.

It also argues that Dafoe is barred from recovery because he has already been paid everything he was owed under applicable wage laws.

“Plaintiff’s claims are barred in whole or in part to the extent that the work he performed falls within exemptions, exclusions, exceptions or credits provided for in the Illinois Minimum Wage Law, Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act, Illinois Employee Classification Act, Illinois Whistleblower Act and the regulations promulgated thereunder,” the answer states.

Additionally, the defendant argues that the plaintiff was not acting as an “employee,” was not engaged in “construction” and was not working for Republic. Instead, he was working for a subcontractor.

In regards to Dafoe’s request for punitive damages, Allied Services argues that punitive damages are unlawful because they would violate the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment.

Dafoe denied the allegations in his May 18 reply to the affirmative defenses.

Neff and Neff Hauling answered the complaint in a handwritten note on June 19 denying the allegations. He is appearing pro se.

Neff also filed an application for waiver of court fees on June 19 and was denied relief on June 22.

Dafoe seeks unspecified damages, punitive damages in excess of $50,000, plus attorney fees and costs.

Dafoe is represented by Lee W. Barron and William D. Buchanan of Alton.

Allied Services is represented by Patricia J. Martin and Andrew C. Johnson of Littler Mendelson in St. Louis.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number 15-L-143

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