FMCSA and OSHA Team up to Help Protect Trucking Whistle Blowers
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) and the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are teaming up to help protect truck driver’s employment rights. This partnership is in response to multiple claims from truck drivers who allege that they were fired for being whistleblowers. The agencies agreed to share information with each other when truck drivers claim that the trucking companies they work for violate labor laws. This announcement followed a Department of Transportation report released in April suggesting the two agencies do just that.
In the agreement, the FMCSA will notify any truck driver who contacts them regarding an issue with potential retaliatory actions by the carrier they driver for to contact the OSHA. In return, the OSHA will notify the FMCSA of any commercial vehicle operator complaints, and direct the commercial vehicle operators to the FMCSA.
This alliance between the two agencies will help in cases such as this recent example where four drivers were found to be improperly fired due to a carrier’s violation of federal whistle blower protection laws.
Gaines Motor Lines was recently found in violation of federal whistle blower protection laws after improperly firing four employees for participating in an inspection audit, leading to the uncovering of log book manipulation. The Hickory, N.C.-based carrier was originally ordered to pay $1.07 million by OSHA, however, after appealing the original ruling Gaines Motor Lines was able to reduce the payment to $262,000. The new settlement does not include the punitive damages originally ordered to be paid in the first settlement, but it does include all back wages plus some interest, and some compensatory payment as well.
The inspection audit was carried out by the FMCSA, who interviewed the four employees between February 28 and March 1. A week later, the citations were delivered to the carrier and the four employees who participated in the audit were fired.
Hopefully this alliance between the two agencies will continue to hold carriers responsible for trying to strong arm their drivers into sweeping harmful, negligent, and illegal company practices under the rug. These rogue carriers are largely responsible for the majority of serious commercial vehicle accidents on our highways that take innocent lives away.
CONTACT PINELLAS COUNTY TRUCK ACCIDENT LAWYERS DOLMAN LAW GROUP
There is a widespread culture in the trucking industry of ignoring federal regulations that are in place to help keep the truckers, and the highways, safe. These unsafe trucking practices often lead to accidents where severe injuries, and even death, can occur. When caught in violation of these federal regulations, carrier companies will often try and sweep the violations under the rug by either changing their company name or strong –arming employees to not comply with federal investigations. Whistle blowers often fear retaliation from their employers and may not step forward due to the fear of losing their job, thus continuing the cycle of unsafe trucking practices and endangering of innocent lives.
If you, a loved one, or someone you know was injured in a trucking accident, and you believe it was due to a trucking company’s negligence, contact the Dolman Law Group today. Our experienced team of attorneys have the resources to ensure that those who are responsible are held accountable for their negligence. Call 727-451-6900 for a free and confidential consultation on your case.
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