ABOVE: Former ASAP Freight driver Brandon Davis, one of the Black plaintiffs in the case, at a news conference called by activist Quanell X outside his former employer’s business.
ASAP Freight Systems CEO Marek Menger wears BLM shirt to deposition in fraud case
As the nation celebrates “essential workers” who finally have gained professional respect while keeping the economy running during the COVID-19 pandemic, some Houston truck drivers are fighting for fair compensation from a local company.
Former drivers say their contracts were not honored by ASAP Freight Systems, Inc. and the company’s CEO/President Marek Menger.
A lawsuit, now in mediation, took an unfortunate twist recently when Menger showed up to his deposition wearing a “Black Lives Matter” shirt, which he was told to remove before the proceeding was filmed, according to court records. He is being sued by eight truck drivers. The majority are people of color and three of the plaintiffs are Black.
Patrick O’Hara, who represents the truck drivers, has asked the presiding judge to sanction Menger $5,000 for “mocking the procedure.”
In the same motion, the lawyer further documented that he heard Menger say: “I thought it would be funny to wear. It is a joke.”
“Marek Menger may believe that Black people seeking racial equality and justice is a joke, but it is not,” O’Hara wrote in the motion.
The lawsuit, filed in October 2018, states that the drivers were contractors who transported industrial equipment, locally and long-haul, and were supposed to get paid a percentage of what each load’s customer was charged.
The lawsuit accuses ASAP Freight of failing to disclose full customer charges to drivers, who could not calculate or check accurate commissions and subsequently lost wages.
“Working people just want an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work,” O’Hara said in a statement. “Marek Menger is taking advantage of people in a weaker position. They are depending on him to be fair and they are relying on him to be honest.”
O’Hara estimates that his clients were each underpaid by $3,000 to $30,000 during time periods ranging from a few months to two years.
Menger and other defendants, who have denied the allegations, also have sought to have the case dismissed.
Requests for comment from Marek Menger about the allegations were left with ASAP Freight and Menger Valve, a sister company he owns that shares the same address. He has not responded.
Former ASAP Freight driver Brandon Davis, one of the Black plaintiffs in the case, appeared recently outside his former employer’s businesses during a news conference called by activist Quanell X.
“When I first started, it was like open arms … and then it got a little fishy down the line. You’re running the same load, but get paid different money,” Davis said. “They don’t care about us, they don’t care about our families and they definitely don’t care about our people.”
While holding a “Black Labor = White Wealth” sign, Quanell said drivers have lost thousands of dollars in pay.
“Truck drivers are America’s essential workers,” the activist said during a Sept. 15 news conference outside ASAP Freight off the Hardy Toll Road. “Without them, America would not survive … even during the pandemic.”
This is at least the second breach of contract lawsuit related to truck driver pay filed against ASAP Freight Systems.
An August 2018 case filed by O’Hara in Harris County District Court on behalf of Robert Patrick McGuire against ASAP Freight and individual defendants including Marek Menger also alleged underpayment on commissions. That lawsuit was resolved in January 2020 without a trial.