An armored car driver is suing his former employer, alleging he was required to drive the company’s 15-ton trucks in unsafe mechanical condition and to partner with a 19-year-old who lacked the qualifications to work in such a capacity.
Michael Abeyta maintains in his Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit that he was fired in 2017 by LA Federal Armored Inc. in retaliation for his complaints. He’s seeking unspecified damages.
An LA Federal Armored representative did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Abeyta says he began working for the company in March 2013 and had generally positive reviews of his work. Among the noted agencies along his route were LA Federal Armored clients Metro, Orange County Transit Authority and Omnitrans, as well as private bus lines and trash hauling firms, according to the complaint filed on his behalf last Thursday.
Abeyta says he also worked part-time as a park ranger for the city of Montebello, and LA Federal Armored initially accommodated his schedule so he could continue that outside work.
After the company found out that Abeyta also had a background in auto mechanics, he agreed when asked to work on its vehicles, the suit states.
In doing the mechanical work, Abeyta became aware that many of LA Federal Armored trucks often leaked oil and other fluids and had poor braking capability, the suit alleges.
When Abeyta complained about the condition of the trucks he was assigned to repair and urged that they undergo maintenance, he was told by supervisors to “drive the trucks regardless of their mechanical condition,” the suit alleges.
The brakes on a truck Abeyta was driving failed as he was driving down a mountain near Hemet, according to his court papers.
“Miraculously, plaintiff was able to stop the truck on the side of the road” and waited eight hours for a tow truck to arrive and take the vehicle to the LA Federal Armored truck yard near downtown, the suit says.
LA Federal Armored trucks weigh at least 15 tons and could cause “catastrophic damage to life and property in the absence of proper maintenance,” the complaint states.
Abeyta alleges that although state law requires armored truck guards to be at least 21 years old, he was partnered with a 19-year-old who was qualified by his age to do no more than clean up at LA Armored headquarters and count money collected by properly licensed guards.
LA Federal Armored regularly employed other people who also were not licensed to carry firearms or drive commercial vehicles, the suit alleges.
“Plaintiff regularly complained to defendants about these dangerous working conditions that made him the potential target of armed thieves and violent attack,” the suit states.
Abeyta also maintains that he was given assignments in the last year that overlapped his park ranger work, causing him to lose esteem in the eyes of his supervisors there.
Abeyta alleges that in retaliation for his complaints, he received his first-ever written discipline in January 2017 on false accusations of tardiness. He says he was told three months later that his resignation had been accepted, even though he had never expressed a desire to quit.
LA Armored management told Abeyta that he had “abandoned his position” by not showing up for work for three days in April 2017, according to the suit.