Whistleblower in Trucking Retaliation Case Reinstated and Awarded Over $180,000
May 4, 2012 - Comments Off
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) ordered the Tennessee trucking company, Mark Alvis, Inc., to reinstate a former employee and pay him more than $180,000 in back pay, interest, and compensatory and punitive damages after determining that the company had violated the employee’s rights under the whistleblower provisions of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act (“STAA”). The STAA protects employees who report non-compliance with safety regulations governing commercial motor vehicles.
On May 4, 2010, the employee was injured when he slipped and fell while inspecting a delivery truck prior to making his scheduled delivery. Although the employee was hurt, he continued with the delivery. Upon arriving at the delivery location, a company dispatcher instructed the employee to make another delivery. The employee refused, stating that he was sick, fatigued, and did not have enough service hours left to perform the delivery under federal regulations. The employee was terminated after he refused to conduct the last delivery. Following his termination, the employee filed a whistleblower complaint with OSHA.
OSHA determined that the company violated the employee’s rights under the STAA when it terminated him for his refusal to drive while sick, tried, and lacking sufficient service hours as required under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. In a May 3, 2012 OSHA press release, Cindy A. Coe – OSHA’s regional administrator in Atlanta – stated that “America’s truck drivers have the right to refuse to drive when they are fatigued and/or ill and when they may be in violation of hours-of-service requires, as permitted by current federal trucking regulations. OSHA will ensure that these basic worker rights are protected and will prosecute any employer found violating them.”