OSHA has ordered a trucking company to immediately rehire a truck driver. The agency says the driver was fired after reporting safety concerns.
According to OSHA, the driver for Interline Logistics Group LLC in Sauk Village, IL, had reported safety concerns about the brakes on his truck. The driver was told to take the truck to a repair shop so that the brakes could be serviced. After the service call, the driver was instructed to return to the dispatch location and pick up a return load.
The driver refused to do so, noting that he was over the number of work hours allowed according to Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations.
The next day, the driver was fired for failing to follow dispatch instructions, according to the company.
OSHA’s investigation found reasonable cause to believe the firing wasn’t based on breaking company work rules but on reporting a safety issue and refusing to violate DOT regulations.
Under OSHA’s order, Interline must pay the driver more than $190,000 in back wages, compensatory damages, attorney’s fees and punitive damages. OSHA says the company also must not retaliate against the employee for exercising his rights under the Surface Transportation Assistance Act’s whistleblower provision.
“This case sends a clear message that employers are simply not allowed to retaliate against workers for reporting work-related safety concerns,” said OSHA administrator David Michaels.
Either party can appeal OSHA’s decision, but an appeal would stay the reinstatement order.
OSHA enforces the whistleblower provision of 21 statutes protecting employees who report violations of various laws, including safety regulations.