OSHA Penalizes Company for Firing Driver Who Refused to Violate Safety Regulations

NFI Interactive Logistics has been ordered to reinstate the employee and pay a total of $276,000, DOL announced.

OSHA announced it has ordered NFI Interactive Logistics Inc. to reinstate a driver and pay him $276,000 in back wages, compensatory, and punitive damages after the company fired him in violation of the anti-retaliation provisions of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act. The agency said NFI assigned the driver to deliver a truckload of bottled water in August 2015 from Northborough, Mass., to Jersey City, N.J., while a severe thunderstorm occurred, causing flooded roads, heavy traffic, and motor vehicle accidents. Believing the delivery would cause him to violate federal hours of service rules, the driver instead delivered the load to a closer customer facility in Kearny, N.J., to which NFI objected.

The Cherry Hill, N.J.-based company fired him the next day for insubordination, causing the driver to file a whistleblower complaint.

"This driver found a way to do his job and ensure motor carrier safety. Rather than receiving credit for doing the right thing, he received a pink slip," said Kim Stille, OSHA's New England regional administrator. "The law is clear: Drivers have the right to raise legitimate safety concerns to their employer – including refusing to violate safety regulations – without fear of termination or other retaliation. NFI must reverse its actions and compensate this driver for the financial and other losses he has suffered as a result of his illegal termination."

Both the driver and the company have the right to appeal OSHA's decision to DOL's Office of Administrative Law Judges.

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