CLEARWATER, Fla. – Jolley Trolley Transportation of Clearwater has been sued by its most senior and eldest bus driver, Robert Schoenstein. A former bus driver for Pinellas County School Systems for 14-years, Schoenstein joined the non-profit transportation service in 2014. It provides daily trolley services as far north as Tarpon Springs and offers charter trips for business, wedding, and tourism events.
Schoenstein, who resigned in January 2020, was demoted from full-time to part-time work in 2018 when he turned 80 years old. According to the lawsuit, he received no explanation for his reduced hours for months. Then, in the spring of 2019, when he asked Jolly Trolley’s Operations Director, Sue Eaton, why his hours were reduced after a blemish-free, two-year work history, she explained, “We have to keep you under the radar for insurance purposes.”
In November 2019, Schoenstein told management that he objected to their use of his age to justify reducing his full-time workload. He asked to be reinstated as a full-time driver.
What followed his request shocked the elderly bus driver.
With no complaints about or against him, a “Driving and Performance Review” was issued that allegedly included fabricated violations with no corroborating evidence demonstrating the asserted violations. It also allegedly included inaccuracies and contradictions. Jolley Trolley claimed that it had simply documented numerous policy or safety concerns that were ongoing issues from February 2019. However, they waited ten months to present any deficiencies, and the complaints were back-dated. The lawsuit states the Driving and Performance Review was a “clumsy, pretextual attempt to create legitimate non-discriminatory reasons for reducing the Plaintiff’s hours and salary” while attempting to terminate his employment constructively.
Jolley Trolley is also accused of further reducing his already part-time hours once he began to defend himself. In the meantime, they hired numerous younger drivers.
But Schoenstein’s pre-suit complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was dismissed on August 24, 2020, as the EEOC was “unable to prove discrimination.” But a concurrent filing of the complaint was submitted to the Fair Credit Reporting Agency.
The FCRA, which regulates consumer reporting agencies and consumer reports, allows consumers to seek damages against those who violate the law. They will also review this case, which states that Jolley Trolley illegally retaliated against Schoenstein when he attempted to defend his position and workload and thereafter set out to force him to resign. The ADEA (Age Discrimination in Employment Act) was also cited as a governing point of reference in the case.
The Plaintiff’s attorneys are William J. Sheslow and Thomas J. Jerla of Whittel and Melton, LLC located in Spring Hill. An inquiry into the case has received no response.