OSHA orders truck driver whistleblower reinstated back pay, damages and counsel fees

The Occupational Safety Health Administration has ordered a company to reinstate a truck driver and pay him damages after he was fired for raising safety concerns. Absolute Waste Removal was found in violation of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act and ordered to back wages of $23,203, plus interest, along with $50,000 in compensatory damages and $50,000 in punitive damages along with reasonable attorney’s fees. OSHA says it does not release the names of employees involved in whistleblower complaints.

The driver was terminated from employment on Feb. 27, 2013, after raising repeated concerns to the company’s owner about new procedures being implemented, according to OSHA. The employee refused to operate a vehicle in an unsafe manner because such operation would violate American National Standards Institute and U.S. Department of Transportation regulations, potentially causing serious injury to the worker, co-workers or the public.

STAA covers private sector drivers and other employees of commercial motor carriers. Companies covered by STAA may not discharge their employees or retaliate against them for refusing to operate a vehicle that would violate a federal commercial motor vehicle rule related to safety, health, or security, or because they had a reasonable apprehension of serious injury to themselves or to the public related to a vehicle’s safety or security condition, according to OSHA.

Jeffrey Newman represents whistleblowers