Whistleblowing-driver prevails in claims against fleet owner

Source: Occupational Safety and Health Administration

OSHA is testing Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA) whistleblower protection provisions by ordering a defunct Connecticut motor carrier and its co-owner to pay more than $150,000 in backpay, fines and attorney’s fees to settle a complaint surrounding management practices and trucking regulations compliance. Investigators found that the carrier retaliated against a driver who voiced concerns about faulty vehicle maintenance, including missing or inoperative headlights and air pressure leaks, and a directive to violate Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration hours of service regulations. 

The agency has ordered charged parties to a) pay the driver $8,300 in back pay and interest, $75,000 in punitive damages, and $50,000 in compensatory damages for mental pain and emotional distress; b) pay complainant’s attorney fees of $21,300; and, c) refrain from retaliating or discriminating against the complainant in any manner for exercising STAA rights. The order is subject to appeal to the OSHA Office of Administrative Law Judges.