SAN FRANSISCO — The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on July 15 ordered JHOS Logistics and Transportation Inc. to reinstate an employee that was terminated for refusing to drive what the employee believed to be an overweight vehicle at the company’s Wilmington, California facility. OSHA also ordered the company to pay more than $190,000 in back wages, $25,000 in punitive damages, $5,000 in compensatory damages and attorney’s fees.
OSHA investigators determined that JHOS Logistics and Transportation Inc. violated the whistleblower provision of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA) when the company terminated the driver. Two months before the termination, the driver received a violation for operating an overweight commercial motor vehicle. The size of the load for which the employee received a citation was similar to the size of the current load, which led the employee to reasonably believe the commercial motor vehicle was overweight.
In addition to the monetary penalties, the company must train its managers and post a notice informing its employees about workers’ rights under the STAA. JHOS Logistics and Transportation Inc. may appeal the order to the Labor Department’s Office of Administrative Law Judges.
“This order underscores the U.S. Department of Labor’s commitment to protect employees who report violations under Surface Transportation Assistance Act,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Barbara Goto. “OSHA enforces the legal provisions of the act, which protects employees who exercise their right to report health and safety concerns with commercial motor vehicles.”
For more information about whistleblower protections, visit OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Programs webpage.