A truck driver who was terminated for refusing to drive in dangerous weather must be reinstated by his employer, Freight Rite, Inc. OSHA issued that order – along with stiff penalties - after determining that the employee told Freight Rite management “of his reasonable apprehension of danger to himself and to the general public due to the hazardous road conditions”.
"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, Georgia.
The agency said that by firing the driver, the company violated the Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA).
Freight Rite, based in Florence, Kentucky, has been ordered pay the driver $31,569 in back wages and interest, $100,000 in punitive damages, $50,000 in compensatory damages, and “reasonable” attorney fees.
Additionally, the company must:
- clear the driver’s personnel file of any reference to the issues involved in the OSHA investigation
- refrain from retaliating against the employee and
- post a notice informing all employees of their whistleblower protections under STAA