In 2010, the truck driver worked for Arizona-based company M3 Transport L.L.C./SLT Expressway Inc. The company assigned the driver a new co-driver. When the truck driver met his new co-driver, the driver noticed the truck’s ashtray was “overflowing with cigarette butts.”
Business Insurance reported, “Upon finding an ashtray overflowing with cigarette butts in the new co-driver’s truck, the employee notified supervisors that driving with this individual would be unacceptable because smoking while hauling explosives violates federal regulations,” OSHA said in the statement.
After reporting the issue to management, the truck driver was told to go home and that he would be re-assigned to another co-driver. However, two days later, the driver was fired. His termination violates the Surface Transportation Assistance Act.
OSHA filed a lawsuit on the driver’s behalf. According to OSHA, the $315,000 settlement represents $280,000 in back wages and interest, $15,000 in compensatory damages and $20,000 in punitive damages.
“Firing or otherwise retaliating against workers who raise safety concerns is unacceptable and against the law,” Ken Nishiyama Atha, OSHA’s regional administrator in San Francisco, said in the statement. “OSHA will not tolerate this type of behavior, and the Labor Department will actively pursue appropriate legal remedies in such cases,” Business Insurance stated.
Drivers, you have the right to refuse to operate under unsafe conditions. If you have been terminated or discriminated against for your refusal to operate unsafe machinery, contact OSHA.