An Elkhart man has won his claim against Thor in a wage dispute, though he was awarded only a fraction of what he wanted.
This story by Jordan Fouts originally appeared in The Elkhart Truth.
Joe Lehman represented himself during a bench trial on March 29, when a court magistrate heard arguments in his small claims suit against the Postle Aluminum division of Thor Industries, which he made in November. Lehman was seeking $3,543 in wages he said the company owed him for lunch breaks he didn’t take when he worked as a flatbed truck driver for about a year and a half.
In an April 2 decision, Magistrate Eric Ditton found in Lehman’s favor, though he granted a judgement of only $35 against Thor plus $125 in court costs. Ditton expressed frustration that the two sides didn’t arm themselves with more evidence for the hearing.
“When a court is called upon to settle a dispute, the court, being the finder of fact and law, is only able to base its decision on the evidence provided to it by the litigants,” he wrote. “This case illustrates the difficulties placed on the court when both litigants perform a less-than-adequate job of presenting sufficient evidence and testimony to support their respective claims.”
He noted that witnesses who spoke on behalf of Thor weren’t able to provide a written rule stating employees had to take a lunch break. He said they “(came) to court empty-handed” while a witness at one point “mentioned that perhaps the evidence exists at his office.”