August 17, 2020
U.S. Department of Labor Orders Florida-Based Motor Carrier
To Reinstate Employee Terminated For Reporting Safety Concerns
MELBOURNE, FL – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has ordered U.S. Corrections LLC – headquartered in Melbourne, Florida – to reinstate an employee for reporting personal and commercial motor vehicle safety concerns. OSHA also ordered the company to pay more than $70,000 in back wages, $30,000 in punitive damages, $7,341 in compensatory damages, $30,000 in emotional distress damages and reasonable attorney’s fees.
OSHA investigators determined the company violated the whistleblower provisions of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA) when it terminated the employee who reported to company managers that a co-driver threatened the employee’s personal safety. The employee also reported that the co-driver violated U.S. Department of Transportation regulations, including driving in excess of posted speed limits, hours-of-service worked and keeping inaccurate driving logs.
In addition to the monetary penalties, the company must train managers and employees on workers' rights under the STAA. The company may appeal the order to the Department's Office of Administrative Law Judges.
"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. "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, airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health insurance reform, motor vehicle safety, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime, securities and tax laws, and for engaging in other related protected activities. For more information on whistleblower protections, visit OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Programs webpage.
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 https://www.osha.gov.
The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.
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Editor’s note: The U.S. Department of Labor does not release the names of employees involved in whistleblower complaints.
Eric R. Lucero, 678-237-0630, firstname.lastname@example.org
Release Number: 20-1386-ATL (350)
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