US Department of Labor's OSHA orders Marlborough, Mass., trucking
company and owner to reinstate, pay more than $131,000 to driver
Worker fired after refusing to drive excess hours in violation of safety regulations
BOSTON – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has ordered Brillo Motor Transportation Inc., a commercial motor carrier located in Massachusetts, and its owner to reinstate a former employee and pay him $96,864 in back wages and interest, $9,669 in compensatory damages and $25,000 in punitive damages.
The order follows an OSHA investigation that determined that Brillo and Chuck Cappello, Brillo's owner, violated the employee protection provisions of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act when they terminated a truck driver in December 2010 in retaliation for his refusal to drive hours in excess of those allowed under Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations. The FMCSA's "60/7" rule states that drivers who are on duty, driving a total of 60 hours in a seven-day period, must have 34 consecutive hours of rest before operating a motor vehicle again. In this case, the driver refused to drive a truck from Quincy to Milford, Mass., because he was already over his allowable driving hours.
"An employer does not have the right to take adverse action against an employee who refuses to violate safety regulations designed to protect him and the public," said Marthe Kent, OSHA's New England regional administrator. "Such employer activity places the well-being of employees and the public at risk if it intimidates workers into violating the law."
OSHA's order also requires Brillo and Cappello to pay reasonable attorney's fees for the complainant, expunge any adverse references relating to the discharge from the complainant's personnel records and post a notice for all employees notifying them of their rights under the STAA. It also prohibits them from retaliating or discriminating against the complainant in any manner for instituting or causing any proceeding under or related to the STAA.
The company or the complainant may file objections or request a hearing before the department's Office of Administrative Law Judges within 30 days of receipt of OSHA's order.
OSHA enforces the whistle-blower provisions of the STAA and 21 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of various airline, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health care reform, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime and securities laws. Employees who believe that they have been retaliated against for engaging in protected conduct may file a complaint with the secretary of labor. Fact sheets and detailed information on employee whistle-blower rights are available online at http://www.whistleblowers.gov/index.html.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
Editor's note: The U.S. Department of Labor does not release names of employees involved in whistle-blower complaints.
U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The information above is available in large print, Braille or CD from the COAST office upon request by calling 292-693-7828 or TTY 292-693-7755.