US Department of Labor's OSHA orders Gresham, Oregon, trucking company
to reinstate driver after unlawful termination, pay back wages
SEATTLE – An Oregon trucker wrongly fired for refusing to drive an unsafe vehicle will get her job back, plus reimbursement for back wages and compensation for fees associated with the case, after an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
"We will enforce whistleblower provisions to the fullest extent of the law to protect employees, who should not be retaliated against for following the law," said Ken Atha, acting OSHA regional administrator.
OSHA has ordered Terry Unrein, an independent trucking contractor in Gresham, Oregon, to reinstate a driver fired in late 2011 for refusing to drive a 10,000-pound truck with inadequate tire tread on public highways. Driving under these conditions violated federal transportation regulations enforced by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Unrein fired the driver eight days after she had the truck's tire replaced before driving on the highway.
The driver filed a whistleblower complaint, and OSHA cited that the driver's termination violated the Surface Transportation Assistance Act's employee protection provisions.
Either party to the case can file an appeal to the department's Office of Administrative Law Judges. The appeal does not stay the preliminary reinstatement order.
OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of more than 20 statues protecting employees who report violations of various commercial motor carrier, airline, nuclear, pipeline, environmental, public transportation agency, consumer product, motor vehicle safety, railroad, maritime, health care reform, food safety, securities and financial reform laws. Detailed information on employee whistleblower rights, including fact sheets with information on how to file a complaint with OSHA, is available online at http://www.whistleblowers.gov.
Editor's note: The U.S. Department of Labor does not release names of employees involved in whistleblower complaints.
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