Seattle, WA- Federal officials have ordered an Oregon to pay a former driver back pay and clear his employment record after he was fired for refusing to ignore federal trucking regulations.
The order was issued by The Occupational Safety and Health Administration early this month after the driver filed a whistleblower lawsuit. The company was also order to stop retaliating against their drivers who refuse to work when there are sick or fatigued.
The driver at the center of the case worked for Washington-based Oak Harbor Freight Lines Inc. One day in 2010 he called in because he was ill and was taking a narcotic cough syrup prescribed to him by a doctor. Because of the company’s attendance policies, which give employees occurrences for calling in or being late, the driver was suspended without pay and then fired in September.
He filed a whistleblower lawsuit under the Surface Transportation Assistance Act, which protects drivers from retaliation for refusing to violate truck safety laws that protect them and the public, according to The Trucker.
“A company cannot place its attendance policies ahead of the safety of its drivers and that of the public,” said David L. Mahlum, the acting regional administrator of OSHA in Seattle.
The Ill or Fatigued Operator Rule prohibits drivers from driving if they are too fatigued or ill. Federal regulations also prohibit drivers from spending more than 11 hours a day on the road.
It is unclear how much the driver will receive for his retaliation claim.
Trucking safety has been a major concern for federal regulators as studies from the National Safety Highway Administration showed that truck occupant fatalities increased 8.9 percent in 2012, the third consecutive year of increases.
After facing serious criticism for lax oversight, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has ramped up their efforts to crackdown in commercial vehicle operators. Over the past few months, a number if trucking companies have been closed because they failed to comply with numerous federal regulations.
Three South Carolina-based trucking companies were ordered to close after regulators found they allowed a driver with a suspended CDL to operate one of their trucks. The same company was cited for disobeying hours-of-service rules, failing to comply with drug testing rules and failing to properly maintain or repair their vehicles. In late November, another trucking company was closed for similar violations.
Truckers are some of the best and most experienced drivers on the road, but the damage and harm that can result if just one bad driver is involved in traffic accident it the results can be devastating. Trucking companies that encourage drivers to disregard federal trucking regulations make themselves more vulnerable to lawsuits if their drivers are involved in an injurious or deadly accident. They are especially vulnerable if the cause of a truck accident is caused by mechanical or safety equipment failure.
If you have the misfortune of being involved in truck accident you need someone to fight for your rights and seek compensation. A truck accident lawyer has the experience and investigative skills to file a successful personal injury lawsuit that will result in maximum compensation.