Officials say an Oklahoma City roofing and building products company will now have to pay thousands in damages after firing two employees.

Two truck drivers for Gulfeagle Supply reported to a manager that the tires on a company truck were unsafe. The drivers, who were concerned about their own safety, refused to operate vehicles with unsafe tires. They were fired in August 2020.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigated and found that Gulfeagle Supply violated the Surface Transportation Assistance Act. OSHA ordered the company to reinstate both drivers at its Oklahoma City location, pay more than $23,000 in back wages to each employee and $70,000 in punitive damages. The company must also train managers and employees on workers’ rights under the STAA.

“Federal law helps make our roads safer by empowering truck drivers to refuse to drive trucks not properly maintained,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Eric Harbin in Dallas. “OSHA is committed to protecting workers who do what’s right when it comes to their safety and that of others.”

Gulfeagle Supply may appeal the order to the department’s Office of Administrative Law Judges.

With corporate headquarters in Tampa, Gulfeagle has 80 roofing and building products locations in Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas.

OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program enforces the whistleblower provisions of 25 whistleblower statutes protecting employees from retaliation for reporting violations of various workplace safety and health, airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health insurance reform, motor vehicle safety, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime, securities and tax laws, and for engaging in other related protected activities. For more information on whistleblower protections, visit OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Programs webpage.