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Truck Driver Reinstated After Refusing to Drive in Winter Storm

July 2, 2019
The employee was fired after he refused to operate in inclement winter weather.

A commercial truck driver who refused to operate a commercial motor vehicle in hazardous road conditions will receive back wages and damages for being terminated.

The Freight Rite Inc. employee reported the company to OSHA which conducted an investigation into the claim.

"Forcing drivers to operate a commercial motor vehicle during inclement weather places their lives and the lives of others at risk," said Kurt Petermeyer, OSHA's regional administrator in Atlanta. "This order underscores the agency's commitment to protect workers who exercise their right to ensure the safety of themselves and the general public." 

Inspectors found that the truck driver advised company supervisors of the reasonable apprehension of danger to himself and others because of inclement winter weather. Florence, Ky.-based Fright Rite fired the worker after the concerns were reported. 

OSHA inspectors determined the termination is a violation of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA). The agency has ordered the company to pay the driver $31,569 in back wages and interest, $100,000 in punitive damages, $50,000 in compensatory damages, and reasonable attorney fees, and to refrain from retaliating against the employee.

In addition to reinstating the worker and clearing his personnel file of any reference to the issues involved in the investigation, Freight Rite must also post a notice informing all employees of their whistleblower protections under STAA.

About the Author

Stefanie Valentic

Stefanie Valentic was formerly managing editor of EHS Today, and is currently editorial director of Waste360.

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