A driver who was fired after he refused to drive an unsafe truck was awarded over $45,000 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Brindi Trailer Sales and Services Inc., the New York Carrier who fired the unnamed driver, was notified of defective equipment on the truck including issues with the brakes, steering and turn signals. The truck also had leaks, and a cracked windshield. Despite being notified, the company refused to do anything to repair the issues. Unwilling to drive an unsafe vehicle any longer, the driver notified the Pennsylvania DOT who performed an inspection and found 16 violations, putting the truck out of service for repairs. “This driver was fired for doing the right thing. A defective truck is a danger not only to its driver but to other motorists on the road. Commercial truck drivers have a legal right to report safety issues to their employer without fear of termination or retaliation. Violating the law can put workers at risk and has costly consequences for the offending employer,” said Robert Kulick, OSHA’s regional administrator in New York.
The driver filed a whistleblower complaint with OSHA under the STAA. OSHA ordered Brindi to pay the driver $32,642 in lost wages, $10,000 in punitive damages, and $3,060.02 in attorney’s fees. In addition, the carrier was ordered to expunge the driver’s employment records.
Motor Carriers are prohibited from drivers who raise various protected concerns or provide protected information to the employer or to the government. Employees who believe that they have been retaliated against for engaging in protected conduct may file a complaint with the Secretary of Labor to request an investigation by OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program. For detailed information on employee whistleblower rights, please contact Robert at (415) 233-7100 or [email protected].