WASHINGTON — The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has ordered Freight Rite Inc. — based in Florence, Kentucky — to reinstate a truck driver terminated after he refused to operate a commercial motor vehicle in hazardous road conditions caused by inclement winter weather.
OSHA ordered the company to pay the driver $31,569 in back wages and interest, $100,000 in punitive damages, $50,000 in compensatory damages, and reasonable attorney fees, and to refrain from retaliating against the employee.
OSHA inspectors determined that the employee advised the company’s management of his reasonable apprehension of danger to himself and to the general public because of the hazardous road conditions.
The termination is a violation of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA), OSHA said.
In addition to reinstating the employee and clearing his personnel file of any reference to the issues involved in the investigation, the employer must also post a notice informing all employees of their whistleblower protections under STAA.
“Forcing drivers to operate a commercial motor vehicle during inclement weather places their lives and the lives of others at risk,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Kurt Petermeyer, in Atlanta. “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 said it enforces the whistleblower provisions of STAA and 21 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of various airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, motor vehicle safety, healthcare reform, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime and securities laws. For more information on whistleblower protections, visit OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Programs webpage.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help 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.
According to the company’s website, Freight Rite was founded in 2005 in order “to better meet the needs of the home delivery industry.
The website said the founders of Freight Rite came from companies serving the residential moving industry, the product warehousing industry and the appliance delivery and installation industry. The website said the company’s mission is to enable retailers and manufacturers to put more focus on their own products and sales by utilizing the logistics expertise of Freight Rite to increase their market share through superior focused product handling, home delivery and product installations.