The U.S Department of Labor has entered into a settlement agreement with Gaines Motor Lines, Inc. and its owners to resolve findings made by the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
A complaint alleged that four former truck drivers were fired for their participation in an inspection audit, in violation of the whistleblower protection provision of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act.
The employees were interviewed at the company’s facility in Hickory, N.C. by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration between Feb. 28 and March 1, 2012, and the drivers were fired on March 8 following FMSCA’s issuance of log book citations.
The settlement requires the employer to pay the four drivers a total of $262, 500, which includes all back pay and interest, as well as compensatory damages.
“OSHA will continue to ensure that the whistleblower provisions of the STAA are properly and thoroughly enforced, while keeping open the opportunity for settlement negotiations,” Kurt A. Petermeyer, OSHA’s regional administrator in Atlanta, said in an agency news release.
The settlement also makes owners Tim Gaines and Rick Tompkins personally responsible for paying all the damages if the company were to go out of business.