The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) ordered a trucking company based in California to rehire an employee who was “terminated for refusing to drive what the employee reasonably believed to be an overweight vehicle,” according to a July 15 press release.
After an investigation, OSHA ruled that JHOS Logistics and Transportation Inc. violated the Surface Transportation Assistance Act’s (STAA) whistleblower provision. Along with restating the employee, JHOS Logistics and Transportation Inc. must pay “more than $190,000 in back wages, $25,000 in punitive damages, $5,000 in compensatory damages and attorney’s fees.” Additionally, OSHA ordered the company to educate managers and employees about their rights under the STAA.
The employee had previously been reprimanded for driving an overweight vehicle: the load sizes in that instance and the instance for which they were fired were comparable, “which led the employee to reasonably believe the commercial motor vehicle was overweight.” The Department of Labor’s press release preserves the whistleblower’s anonymity.
“This order underscores the U.S. Department of Labor’s commitment to protect employees who report violations under Surface Transportation Assistance Act,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Barbara Goto about the finding. “OSHA enforces the legal provisions of the act, which protects employees who exercise their right to report health and safety concerns with commercial motor vehicles.”