Truck weight-minded whistleblower banks $220K in OSHA order

Sources: Occupational Safety and Health Administration; CP staff

Abiding its Whistleblower Protection Program, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has ordered JHOS Logistics and Transportation Inc. to reinstate an employee terminated for refusing to drive what the employee reasonably believed to be an overweight vehicle at the company’s Wilmington, Calif. facility. The agency also ordered the motor carrier to pay $190,000 in back wages, $25,000 in punitive damages, $5,000 in compensatory damages, plus attorney’s fees. 

Investigators determined a violation of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA) whistleblower provision when JHOS Logistics terminated the employee. Two months prior to the termination, the employee was cited for operating an overweight commercial motor vehicle. The size of the previous load was similar to the size of the current load, which led the employee to believe the truck exceeded legal weight.

“This order underscores the Department of Labor’s commitment to protect employees who report violations under Surface Transportation Assistance Act,” says OSHA Regional Administrator Barbara Goto. “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.”

In addition to the monetary penalties, OSHA has ordered JHOS Logistics to train managers and post a notice informing their employees about workers’ rights under the STAA. The motor carrier may appeal the order to the Department of Labor’s Office of Administrative Law Judges.