I wrote Dr. Senator Coburn,
Dr. Coburn, An unfortunate traffic accident occured a few miles from my home last week. A local Ponca City man and neighbor drove his pickup into the trailer of an 18 wheeler leaving a local construction company yard. There were no skid marks, and there was speculation the deceased, the pickup driver, might have intended the consequences.
I was told that the driver of the semi rig was fired on the spot.
I have several concerns about what turns out to be a knee-jerk reaction in many industries, to fire someone when something unfortunate happens.
Every driver has someone giving instructions, directions -- orders where to go, what to pick up and deliver. If the driver were to be found impaired (I don't believe that was the case, here), then possibly the driver is at fault -- but the dispatcher, or the driver's supervisor or lead, must surely be criminally negligent for not assuring that their driver was alert and unimpaired, and competent to operate the assigned equipment for the assigned task. Yet companies successfully fire the lowest-ranked people involved to evade responsibility.
Second, this driver was involved in a death related to his assigned task. The semi driver did not *choose* to be in that location, nor to be there at that time. And yet he was left with the knowledge that his presence with his rig caused the death of another person. Anyone in this position, regardless of other circumstances, must surely need some emotional support, transport, and likely supportive care. I find firing this person at the same time to be a horrible vilification of what may turn out to be entirely the fault of the deceased. But we now have a fired semi driver, being treated as if he *deliberately* killed the pickup driver. This has to have been crushing for the semi driver, and an insurmountable social indictment in front of his friends and family, as well as to him.
Third, the trucking company now has no driving reason to understand what went wrong, no outstanding reason to review whether the people that sent their driver on that task that day made mistakes, no reason to review the readiness, alertness, competence, and lack of impairment on the part of other drivers and supervisory and dispatch people.
Please consider whether an employer should be penalized for firing someone, contractor or employee, without due notice and reasonable process, without reasonable discovery of what happened and who all was responsible for creating the situation.
Thank you, and my heart goes out to the family of my neighbor, and to the driver of that semi,