The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has ordered a Kentucky trucking company to rehire a driver who they fired for refusing to drive in dangerous winter weather.
Freight Rite Inc. was ordered to reinstate an unnamed fired driver and to pay him $31,569 in back wages and interest, $100,000 in punitive damages, $50,000 in compensatory damages, and reasonable attorney fees, according to a June 28 news release from the Department of Labor.
Authorities say that the truck driver was “terminated after he refused to operate a commercial motor vehicle in hazardous road conditions caused by inclement winter weather … OSHA inspectors determined that the employee advised the company’s management of his reasonable apprehension of danger to himself and to the general public due to the hazardous road conditions. The termination is a violation of the SurfaceTransportation Assistance Act (STAA).”
In addition to rehiring the fired truck driver, Freight Rite is forbidden from taking any retaliatory action against him once he is back with the company.
“Forcing drivers to operate a commercial motor vehicle during inclement weather places their lives and the lives of others at risk,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Kurt Petermeyer, in Atlanta, Georgia. “This order underscores the agency’s commitment to protect workers who exercise their right to ensure the safety of themselves and the general public.”