The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) awarded a Massachusetts truck driver back pay and reinstatement after losing his job in 2012.
An OSHA investigation found that the company fired him for refusing to violate safety regulations to complete a delivery.
Hours of service was core issue
According to OSHA, the driver was supposed to transport bottled water from Northborough, MA to Jersey City, NJ.
While on the road, he encountered significant weather delays along his route.
Flooded roads and a series of traffic accidents prevented the driver from completing the delivery at its intended destination.
To avoid violating hours of service restrictions, the driver devised a plan to deliver the water to a closer facility in Kearny, NJ.
The driver arranged for a different driver from the same company to complete the delivery on time. The abbreviated route allowed the initial driver to return to Northborough, MA without violating work rules.
Both the client and the company approved of the arrangement, although the company objected to the initial delivery to Kearny.
The driver, who was 63 at the time of the incident, had been a commercial truck driver for 43 years. He had worked for the company for about a year.
Records show he had made the trip from Massachusetts to New Jersey several times. The driver was driving a day cab truck when the incident occurred.
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Driver Filed Retaliation Claim With OSHA
On arrival, his work log revealed that he had only 10 minutes of service time remaining. He also learned that while his plan was acceptable to Poland Springs, it was not acceptable to his supervisor.
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The company fired the worker that day for insubordination. The driver filed a complaint with OSHA. He claimed that the company retaliated against him for raising safety concerns about his hours of service.
OSHA Ruling Awarded Back Pay, Compensatory Damages
OSHA found in favor of the driver. The agency ordered the company to rehire the driver and compensate him with four years of back pay.
They also ordered the company to pay his legal fees and $50,000 in compensatory damages.
His entire award under the ruling was $276,000. Following the ruling, the company announced that it would appeal.
OSHA Completed Two Other Truck Driver Safety Investigations
OSHA has found in favor of truck drivers three times in 2016 in retaliatory discharge disputes. In January, the agency ruled that a New York firm violated the Surface Transportation Assistance Act.
In that case, the company fired one of its drivers for complaining about the condition of its trucks. According to the complaint, the driver notified his employer about defective equipment on his truck.
He noted problems with the brakes, steering, turn signals and windshield. The company refused to repair the vehicle. The driver contacted the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.
Which inspected the truck and ordered it out of service for repair. The company repaired the truck but fired the driver.
OSHA Sided With Driver Dumped In Iowa
In March, OSHA ruled against a Nebraska trucking firm that fired one of its drivers. In that case, the Iowa Commercial Motor Vehicle Enforcement stopped and ticketed the driver.
He received tickets for operating an unsafe truck, and for driving an unregistered vehicle. The company paid to have the truck repaired, but ordered the driver to return the unregistered truck to Nebraska.
The driver refused and lost his job. In addition, he had to find his own transportation back to Nebraska, where he lived.
Photo Credit: Califmom, via Flickr.com