OSHA ordered a Connecticut-based commercial motor carrier to compensate a driver more than $150,000 for retaliating against him when he raised safety concerns.
Investigators found Universal Trucking Solutions LLC and its co-owner, Juan Ramirez, violated whistleblower protections by retaliating against a driver who repeatedly voiced concerns about faulty vehicle maintenance.
The driver complained about missing and inoperative headlights and air pressure leaks as well as the company’s orders to violate federal hours-of-service regulations while driving.
In response, Ramirez and company management changed the driver’s schedule, leading to a reduction in pay, according to a Department of Labor news release.
In February 2017, the driver resigned because he was afraid:
- a defective truck would cause an injury or fatality
- the U.S. Department of Transportation would confiscate his Commercial Driver’s License, and
- of consequences from being forced to ignore federal hours-of-service rules.
OSHA investigated the driver’s report of retaliation and on Feb. 26 ordered Ramirez and his defunct company to:
- pay the driver $8,316 in back pay and interest, $75,000 in punitive damages and $50,000 in compensatory damages for mental pain and emotional distress
- pay $21,378 in attorneys’ fees, and
- refrain from retaliating or discriminating against the driver in any manner for exercising his whistleblower rights.