As an attorney who specializes in workplace abuse, I read a lot of very bad court decisions. Here’s one from U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch that rivals the very worst.
Judge Gorsuch wrote a dissent in Transam Trucking, Inc. v. Administrative Review Board, U.S. Department of Labor in which he said a trucker should be fired because he left a big truck rig with frozen brakes that was stranded by the side of the road late at night in frigid weather, three hours after his employer failed to arrive to fix the truck. The cabin was unheated and the trucker was showing signs of hypothermia. He unhooked the trailer and drove the cab to a gas station where he warmed up, and then he returned. He was fired.
“It might be fair to ask whether TransAm’s decision was a wise or kind one. But it’s not our job to answer questions like that” wrote Gorsuch.”There’s simply no law anyone has pointed us to giving employees the right to operate their vehicles in ways their employers forbid.”
Do we really need a law saying you can save your life if its 14 degrees below zero, your torso is numb and your speech slurred, and your employer has failed to rescue you after several hours time?
Under the questioning of U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn), the true absurdity and senselessness of Judge Gorsuch’s dissent is on full display. (See below)
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) also noted at today’s confirmation hearings: “According to [the truck driver’s] recollection, it was 14 degrees below. So cold, but not as cold as your dissent, Judge Gorsuch.”
It’s hard to imagine Judge Gorsuch, a Georgetown Prep/Harvard Law School grad, sitting in that freezing, stranded big rig late at night. But one wonders why he can’t empathize with the poor schmuck who chose to save his life rather than die alone for no good reason just because his employer told him that he couldn’t leave. Gorsuch’s dissent leaves one wondering if Judge Gorsuch is just another member of the American aristocracy who is ascending to the imperial throne, where he will spend the rest of his life showing a complete lack of empathy and regard for the right of workers to be treated with basic dignity and respect in the workplace.