Federal Judge Upholds DOL’s Decision in Whistleblower Case

Federal Judge Upholds DOL’s Decision in Whistleblower Case

Crane Masters Inc. must now compensate the worker, who was terminated after voicing safety concerns.

A federal judge has upheld a U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) order requiring Houston-based Crane Masters Inc.—which provides crane and rigging services—to compensate a truck driver terminated for refusing to exceed safe driving limits. 

According to a recent release, the judge's decision mandates that the company pay the former employee $14,945 in back pay, interest, and compensatory damages, expunge the termination from the driver's record and notify employees of the ruling.

The incident occurred on June 5, 2020, when the driver—who had worked 19 hours the previous day—informed Crane Masters that they had not received the legally required rest period and it would be unsafe to operate a commercial vehicle. Despite raising these concerns, the driver was terminated.

The resulting OSHA investigation concluded that Crane Masters had illegally fired the driver for exercising their rights under the federal Whistleblower Protection Program, which protects employees from retaliation for reporting safety and regulatory violations.

“Congress enacted the world’s first whistleblower protections in 1778 to ensure that people who come forward to report illegal behaviors or actions don’t suffer for doing what’s right,” OSHA Regional Administrator Eric S. Harbin in Dallas said in a statement. “In this case, Crane Masters Inc. was held accountable for retaliating against an employee who acted responsibly by raising their concerns about endangering themselves and others by operating a commercial vehicle without sufficient rest.”

The DOL’s Regional Solicitor in Dallas presented the case in a formal hearing in Houston on Oct. 14, 2022. And the judge issued the ruling on May 13, 2024, emphasizing the role of whistleblower rights for employee safety and public welfare.

About the Author

Robert Yaniz Jr. is the Content Editor of Occupational Health & Safety.

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