A former mechanic and driver for an Allentown, Pa.-based school transportation company says his termination violated whistleblower protections under the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Code, according to a lawsuit filed at the Lehigh County Court of Common Appeals.
Keith Bryfogle, of Allentown, seeks compensatory and punitive damages, including lost pay and benefits for two counts of whistleblower retaliation and wrongful discharge against First Student, Inc., an international company headquartered in the United Kingdom with locations throughout the U.S.
According to the complaint, Bryfogle, a certified inspection technician, worked as lead mechanic for the Allentown location, providing regular maintenance for the school buses and occasionally performing as a bus driver.
The claim says that Bryfogle sent a letter of concern in December 2013 to his supervisors, documenting what he felt were numerous dangerous conditions with the vehicles and staffing policies. According to the complaint, Bryfogle told management that many of the buses had not received timely oil changes or other routine maintenance procedures, were uninspected and being operated on by mechanics at the end of an entire work shift who were too tired to properly perform their duties.
According to the complaint, these conditions continued to exist through the rest of the school year. In July 2014, the claim says, Bryfogle was terminated from First Student based on false allegations pertaining to another matter not detailed in the complaint.
Bryfogle claims that the reasons given by the defendants for his firing are based on false pretenses and that his termination was in retaliation for his reporting of the unsafe conditions.
"The defendants discharged and retaliated against [Bryfogle] because he made a good faith report to the employer about an instance of violation of a commercial motor vehicle safety rule or regulation," says the complaint.
The plaintiff is represented by David Deratzian of Hahalis & Kounoupis in Bethleheam, Pa.