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Company ordered to pay truck driver who was fired for refusing to violate Hours of Service rules

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A federal judge sided with a truck driver who was fired in 2020 after refusing to violate Hours of Service regulations, according to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

On May 13, 2024, a federal judge ordered Houston-based Crane Masters to pay a former truck driver $14,945 in back pay, interest and compensatory damages.

After working 19 hours on June 4, 2020, the truck driver told Crane Masters that he was not legally allowed to operate a commercial vehicle without a rest break.

According to OSHA, the company responded by firing the driver on June 5, 2020.

OSHA investigators say that Crane Masters violated the federal Whistleblower Protection Program by firing the truck driver.

The Whistleblower Protection Program protects workers from retaliation from their employers when they report violations of the law or when they engage in a protected act.

The Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA) included in the Whisteblower Protection Program specifically forbids employers from retaliating against truck drivers who refuse to operate a vehicle if doing so would violate a regulation.

“Congress enacted the world’s first whistleblower protections in 1778 to ensure that people who come forward to report illegal behaviors or actions don’t suffer for doing what’s right,” OSHA Regional Administrator Eric S. Harbin in Dallas. “In this case, Crane Masters Inc. was held accountable for retaliating against an employee who acted responsibly by raising their concerns about endangering themselves and others by operating a commercial vehicle without sufficient rest.”

“Once again, the Department of Labor has vigorously enforced the rights of employees who report safety or regulatory violations,” said OSHA Regional Solicitor John Rainwater. “Whistleblower rights are crucial to the safety of employees and the public at-large. A federal judge upheld the department’s contention that Crane Masters wrongly retaliated against a hard-working employee for doing what’s right.” 

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