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On May 4, 2010, Jack Taylor, a driver for Mark Alvis Inc., was dispatched to deliver a load of milk to the Kroger Supermarket in Murfeesboro, Tennessee.

Taylor went out to inspect his truck.  While doing so, Taylor slipped and landed on the ladder, causing discomfort in his stomach and chest.  In a deposition, Taylor said he felt some pain but thought it would go away the following day, the day he was to make the delivery.

The next day, Taylor left to make the delivery but was still not feeling well.

After completing his delivery and unloading the order, Taylor was ordered to make another delivery.

Taylor instructed Alvis he was not only ill and fatigued, that making the delivery in the instructed time would violate the hours of service law. Taylor refused the delivery and headed back to Brush Creek.

When he arrived back at Mark Alvis Inc., Taylor was instructed to remove his times from the truck and was terminated.

Taylor filed a claim with OSHA, under the Surface Transportation Assistance Act.

Mark Alvis Inc. told OSHA that Taylor had quit when he was asked to remove his items from the truck; however, OSHA performed an investigation and found evidence that Taylor had, in fact, been terminated.

OSHA sued on behalf of Taylor.  Taylor won an $180,000 suit.  Mark Alvis Inc. was ordered to pay back pay, interest, compensatory and punitive damages.

OSHA also ordered the company to expunge Taylor’s employee record and remove any comments regarding the situation. The company also ordered the company to post a fact sheet outlining employees rights under OSHA.

Taylor and other drivers are protected under the Whistleblowers provision.  All drivers have the legal right to refuse a load that would cause them to violate the hours of service law, as well as any of the 20 other trucking regulations. Under the provision, employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees from reporting concerns or protected information to their employer or the government.

“America’s truck drivers have the right to refuse to drive when they are fatigued and/or ill and when they may be in violation of hours-of-service requirements, as permitted by current federal trucking regulations,” said Cindy A. Coe, OSHA’s regional administrator in Atlanta. “OSHA will ensure that these basic worker rights are protected and will prosecute any employer found violating them.”

Drivers, it is your CSA score that is affected if your dispatcher orders you to make a delivery that violates the hours of service, or if you are ordered to drive a truck that does not meet regulation.  You have a legal right to refuse any load.