UPS Freight must pay a commercial truck driver nearly $50,000 in damages and back wages for illegally retaliating against him for refusing to drive a truck he believed to be in violation of federal motor carrier standards.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said the driver refused to operate a commercial truck out of the Londonderry, New Hampshire, UPS facility because the truck did not have an electronic logging device (ELD) mandated by federal law.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires commercial motor vehicles to be equipped with ELDs or a mounting device for a portable ELD, which electronically records the driver’s operating times and hours of service (HOS).
OSHA investigators determined that the truck driver’s supervisor was not trained on the federal requirements for ELDs. They also found that company managers tried to coerce the truck driver into violating the regulation.
When he refused, the company fired him for “gross insubordination.” The company later modified the truck driver’s termination to a suspension, then harassed the driver after reinstating him, OSHA found.
The Surface Transportation Assistance Act’s whistleblower provisions prohibit employers from retaliating against an employee who reports violations of federal regulations. OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions that protect commercial drivers as well as more than 20 other whistleblower statutes that protect workers in a spectrum of industries.
OSHA ordered UPS Freight to pay the truck driver $15,273 in compensatory damages, $30,000 in punitive damages, and approximately $2,700 in back wages plus interest.
The agency also ordered the company to clear the driver’s employment record of any references to the matter and post a notice informing workers of their whistleblower protections under the Surface Transportation Assistance Act.
Additionally, OSHA ordered UPS to refrain from firing or discriminating against any employees who report violations or engage in other protected whistleblower activity.
“Truck drivers are protected from retaliation when they refuse to violate laws put in place to protect their safety and health,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Galen Blanton in Boston. “This order underscores the agency’s commitment to protect workers who exercise their right to ensure the safety of themselves and the general public.”
Beasley Allen has an experienced group of lawyers dedicated to handling whistleblower cases. Lawyers on our whistleblower litigation team are Larry Golston, Lance Gould, Paul Evans, Leslie Pescia, Leon Hampton, Tyner Helms and Lauren Miles.