OSHA Helps Employee Who Refused to Drive Overweight Vehicle

SOURCE: OSHA | August, 31, 2020

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has ordered JHOS Logistics and Transportation to reinstate an employee who refused to drive what was believed to be an overweight vehicle.

The OSHA also ordered the trucking 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 JHOS violated the whistleblower provision of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA) when it terminated the employee at its Wilmington, California facility. Two months prior, the employee received a violation for operating an overweight commercial motor vehicle. The size of the previous load was similar to the size of the current load, which led the employee to believe the commercial motor vehicle was overweight.

The OSHA says the 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 activities.

JHOS must now train managers and post a notice informing their employees about workers’ rights under the STAA. The company may appeal the order to the Department’s Office of Administrative Law Judges.

OSHA regional administrator Barbara Goto says: “This order underscores the US Department of Labor’s commitment to protect employees who report violations under Surface Transportation Assistance Act. 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.”

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