Driver Drops Suit Alleging His Firing Stemmed From Coronavirus Absences

Hand And Gavel.

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A former driver for a company that transports crude oil by truck dropped his lawsuit against his ex-employer, in which he alleged he was fired for taking time off to deal with symptoms he believed were related to COVID-19.

Lawyers for Edward Lucero Jr. filed paperwork on Friday with Los Angeles Superior Court Yolanda Orozco asking that his lawsuit he brought against Sentinel Transportation LLC last Sept. 21 be dismissed. The court papers did not state if a settlement was reached or if Lucero was not pursuing the case for other reasons.

Lucero had sought unspecified compensatory and punitive damages on allegations of wrongful discharge, disability discrimination, failure to accommodate a disability and retaliation.

“Lucero's termination came at the worst time due to the pandemic (because) no one was hiring,'' according to his original court papers, which did not specifically state whether he was diagnosed with the coronavirus.

Sentinel's trucks move oil from wellhead to gathering points and storage tanks throughout the country, with more than 300 drivers employed by the company, according to the suit.

Lucero had worked for Sentinel before and was rehired Feb. 26, returning just as the pandemic was starting to take hold in the United States, the suit stated. On March 3, he began to experience symptoms that were “commonly understood to be associated'' with COVID-19 and told management that he was too ill to report to work the next day, according to his court papers.

On March 5, he said he again told management he was too sick to work and that he might have contracted the virus. He asked to take March 6 off and that same day was examined by a doctor who prescribed cough medication and cleared him to return to work on March 12 -- information he gave management, the suit stated.

Sentinel requested that Lucero provide a doctor's note excusing his absences along with proof that he had been examined on March 6, according to the plaintiff, who said that when he asked for the note, his doctor told him there would be a delay because his insurance enrollment was still being processed.

On March 11, the day before he was scheduled to return to work, Lucero received a note from the doctor's office excusing his absences from Sentinel from March 6-11, information the plaintiff turned over to Sentinel, the suit stated.

While Lucero was still waiting for his doctor's note confirming his visit on March 6, Sentinel called and told him he had been fired for havingfailed to provide the requested doctor's note, according to the suit. Lucero says he explained that he had asked for the note, was waiting for his doctor to provide it and that his insurance enrollment process was delaying his receipt of it, but Sentinel did not agree to reinstate him.

On March 17, he says he received the doctor's note Sentinel had requested, confirming that he had visited on March 6. He says he provided the note to Sentinel and requested that his employment be reinstated, but the company refused.

Photo: Getty Images

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