Federal authorities ordered a Florida-based armed security transportation company to pay a whistleblower driver more than $130,000 in back wages and damages after finding the driver had been fired for reporting safety concerns.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) determined that U.S. Corrections Inc. violated the Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA) when it terminated the driver in retaliation for reporting to managers that another company driver threatened his personal safety. The STAA has built-in whistleblower provisions that prohibit an employer from retaliating against employees who report potential safety concerns or wrongdoing.
According to OSHA, the driver also reported that his co-driver violated federal transportation regulations by driving over posted speed limits, not complying with hours-of-service rules, and keeping inaccurate driving logs.
U.S. Corrections LLC is a private for-profit firm specializing in the transportation of prisoners. The company provides armed transport services in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
After being terminated, the driver filed a complaint with OSHA. The agency investigated the former employee’s allegations and found U.S. Corrections violated the STAA’s whistleblower provisions. OSHA ordered the company to pay the driver more than $70,000 in back wages, $30,000 in punitive damages, $7,341 in compensatory damages, $30,000 in emotional distress damages, and attorney fees.
OSHA also ordered the company to train its managers and employers on workers’ rights under the STAA.
“Federal law gives motor carrier employees the right to raise safety, health and security concerns with their supervisors without fear of retaliation,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Kurt Petermeyer in Atlanta. “This order underscores the Labor Department’s commitment to protecting those rights.”
OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program enforces the whistleblower provisions of more than 20 whistleblower statutes protecting employees from retaliation for reporting violations of various workplace safety and health regulations.
Whistleblower Litigation and Employment Law
Beasley Allen has a Whistleblower Litigation Team in place to handle retaliation claims such as this one. Due to our firm’s heavy involvement in whistleblower litigation, there was a definite need for the creation of a team specializing in these cases. Corporate wrongdoing can and has put workers and the American public at risk, ad whistleblowers should be thanked and rewarded for calling out these risks instead of being punished for them.
A person who has been terminated from his or her job for refusing to risk their lives or the lives of others may have a whistleblower case. Before you report suspected fraud or other wrongdoing – before you “blow the whistle” – it is important to make sure you have a valid claim and that you are prepared for what lies ahead. Beasley Allen’s group of lawyers dedicated to handling whistleblower cases can navigate you the oftentimes risky and complex litigation.
Lawyers on our whistleblower litigation team are Lance Gould, Larry Golston, Lauren Miles, Leon Hampton, Leslie Pescia, Paul Evans and Tyner Helms. If you are aware of fraud being committed against the federal or state governments, you could be rewarded for reporting the fraud. If you have any questions about whether you qualify as a whistleblower, you can contact a lawyer at Beasley Allen for a free and confidential evaluation of your claim.