Court sides with truck driver turned OSHA whistleblower

Sources: Occupational Safety and Health Administration; CP staff

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois has approved the settlement of an Occupational Safety and Health Administration whistleblower investigation revealing how Advance Disposal Services Waste Midwest LLC retaliated against a driver who reported a workplace injury and raised concerns that an unrepaired truck was unsafe to operate. The court ordered the Northbrook, Ill. hauler, recently acquired by Waste Management, to pay the whistleblower $95,000 in lost wages, minus applicable payroll taxes. 

OSHA investigators found that after the driver—unnamed in public documents due to whistleblower case protocol—cited safety matters, an ADS manager assigned the vehicle to another driver. The manager then assigned the whistleblower to a vehicle with which he or she was unfamiliar; while operating the truck, the driver injured a finger and needed light duty to recover. The company faulted the whistleblower for the injury, and later fired he or she over suspicions of reporting unsafe working conditions to an ADS hotline. OSHA determined the dismissal was in retaliation for activities protected under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. The agency’s Whistleblower Protection Program enforces 20-plus statutes shielding employees from retaliation for reporting workplace safety and health law violations. 

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