Deepinder Loomba wants to share a secret. In court, 90% of verdicts go in favor of drivers, not transport companies, he says.
“Drivers need not get scared of anything,” says the licensed paralegal.
Many new truck drivers are recent immigrants and former students with work permits and are unaware of their rights, says Loomba who practices in Brampton, Ont. Sometimes, there are issues regarding unpaid wages and contracts.
Wages cannot be withheld under any circumstance, Loomba says, and some drivers do not know this.
Truckers should read the entire contract. “They should not sign anything without reading, even if it takes them four hours or five hours,” Loomba advises. If they don’t understand the contract, they have the right to take the document to their lawyer or paralegal for an explanation.
Loomba says if they don’t understand something, they should ask the person giving them the contract for an explanation. If it is not forthcoming, they should have it on record saying the document was signed but will be explained later.
Loomba, who is from India, arrived in Canada in 2001, after spending time working as a business executive in Africa.
“I tried to find a job in my line of work, but it was very difficult during that time,” he says. He found work at a call center and a security company.
Loomba has had first-hand experience with rights and responsibilities colliding in a legal context.
In 2005, while working for a security company, he was assigned to monitor security at a Home Depot store that was under construction.
Although there were signs stating hardhats were required at the site, Loomba did not wear one because it interfered with the turban he wore as an element of his faith.
“I was not involved in the construction and was not taking rounds where construction activity was undertaken,” Loomba says.
This led to a heated dispute with the store’s assistant manager, who insisted the hardhat was a safety requirement under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Loomba was taken off the job and faced a reduction in work hours.
In a June 2010 decision, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario found that Loomba had been discriminated against – he had been treated differently in a negative way because of his turban. “They paid me compensation and my expenses,” Loomba says.
Loomba, who obtained his immigration diploma in 2002, was also involved in legal processing and outsourcing. He completed his paralegal studies and started practicing in 2012.
In case of an accident, a driver is not liable to make any payments, Loomba says. If the employer fails to inform the insurance company and pressures the driver for payment, legal advice must be sought, he adds.
He says it is illegal to deduct insurance premiums from drivers’ wages.
Loomba says electronic logging devices will prevent drivers being exploited by forcing them to work beyond mandated hours.
New immigrants should also not worry about the threat of deportation being used against them. “If someone has entered this country legally, nobody can deport the person, unless they are proven guilty by a Canadian court,” Loomba says.
Transport companies need to get good advice too, he says. Some companies don’t care much because they know most employees or former employees are not going to act against them. Employees must know their rights, he adds.
Loomba creates TikTok videos on wages, insurance and other issues. “Social media, YouTube, radio and the media are good platforms to get the message out to truckers about their rights,” he says.
By Leo Barros