Company ordered to rehire trucker who refused to drive in inclement weather
July 9, 2019
•Land Line Staff
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has ordered a Kentucky trucking company to reinstate a truck driver who refused to operate during inclement weather.
OSHA ordered Freight Rite Inc., Florence, Ky., to pay the driver $31,569 in back wages and interest, $100,000 in punitive damages, $50,000 in compensatory damages, and a “reasonable” amount in attorney fees. According to OSHA, the termination of the truck driver’s employment was a violation of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act.
According to a Department of Labor spokesperson, the truck driver, whose name was not released, decided not to operate because of hazardous winter weather conditions on Jan. 16, 2018, near Lexington, Ky.
“Forcing drivers to operate a commercial motor vehicle during inclement weather places their lives and the lives of others as risk,” OSHA Regional Administrator Kurt Petermeyer said in a news release. “This order underscores the agency’s commitment to protect workers who exercise their right to ensure the safety of themselves and the general public.”
OSHA inspectors determined that the truck driver advised the company’s management of his “reasonable apprehension of danger to himself and to the general public due to the hazardous road conditions” caused by the inclement weather.
In addition to reinstating the employee and clearing his personnel file of any reference to the investigation, Freight Rite is also required to post a notice informing all of its employees of their whistleblower protections.
More information about OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Programs can be found here.