Kentucky Trucking Company Must Reinstate Terminated Whistleblower Employee
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) ordered Freight Tire Inc. to reinstate a truck driver who was terminated after refusing to operate a commercial vehicle in inclement weather.
A truck driver was terminated by Freight Rite Inc. after he refused to operate a commercial motor vehicle in hazardous road conditions caused by inclement winter weather. Now, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has ordered the company to reinstate the truck driver, as well as pay the driver $31,569 back in wages and interest, $100,000 in punitive damages, $50,000 in compensatory damages, and reasonable attorney fees, and to refrain from retaliating against the employee.
OSHA inspectors decided the employee advised the company’s management of his reasonable apprehension of danger to himself and to the general public due to the hazardous road conditions. His termination is a violation of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA).
The employer must also post a notice informing all employees of their whistleblower protections under STAA.
“Forcing drivers to operate a commercial motor vehicle during inclement weather places their lives and the lives of others at risk,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Kurt Petermeyer. “This order underscores the agency’s commitment to protect workers who exercise their right to ensure the safety of themselves and the general public.”
OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of STAA and 21 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of various airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, motor vehicle safety, healthcare reform, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime, and securities laws.
More information about whistleblower protections are available on OHSA’s Whistleblower Protection Programs webpage.