The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has ordered a now-defunct Ohio carrier, Star Air Inc., to pay two Ohio truck drivers $302,000 for terminating two drivers and violating the Surface Transportation Assistance Act’s whistleblower provision.
In addition, Akron Reserve Ammunition Inc., was also named in the suit as a defendant because the company is a successor to Star Air.
The drivers listed in the suit were terminated after being stopped by West Virginia State Police and being cited for hauling an overweight load without a valid license and driving without a logbook.
In addition, the truck did not have the ams of the company, its home base or a DOT number displayed.
Following the citation, the drivers refused to continue hauling the load. Star Air terminated both of the drivers.
After being terminated for refusing to drive, the drivers filed complaints with OSAH alleging that Star Air has retaliated against them, which violates that STAA.
A judge ordered Star Air and it’s former owner to pay back wages to the drivers a settlement of $302,000 over a three-year period. Should the payments go into default, the company’s owner will be forced to pay the entire amount that was awarded in the judgement, which was $685,785.22.
“These drivers were fired for trying to protect themselves and the driving public,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels.
“No truck driver should be forced to drive while tired, sick or in violation of truck weight or Hours of Service requirements. OSHA will continue to defend America’s truck drivers against unscrupulous employers who unlawfully retaliate against drivers who assert their right to drive safely,” Michaels said.
OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of the STAA and 21 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of various airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, motor vehicle safety, health-care reform, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime and securities laws.
Under the various whistleblower provisions enacted by Congress, employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who raise various protected concerns or provide protected information to the employer or the government.
Employees who believe that they have been retaliated against for engaging in protected conduct may file a complaint with the secretary of labor for an investigation by OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program. More information is available at http://www.whistleblowers.gov.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
The U.S. Department of Labor does not release names of employees involved in whistleblower complaints.