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OSHA Orders Tennessee Trucking Company to Reinstate Whistleblower and Pay Over $180,000 for Terminating Him for Refusing to Drive While Fatigued and Ill

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On May 3, 2012, the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced that it ordered Mark Alvis, Inc., a Tennessee-based commercial motor carrier, to reinstate a former employee and pay him $180,000 in back pay, interest, and damages. OSHA found that the company violated the Surface Transportation Assistance Act by terminating the employee for refusing to drive while he was fatigued and ill, and for refusing to exceed the hours-of-service limitations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.

On May 4, 2010, while inspecting a milk tanker truck for readiness before making a delivery, the driver slipped and hit his chest and stomach against a ladder. After he completed the delivery, the employee’s supervisor instructed him to perform another delivery.  The employee informed his supervisor that could not make the delivery, both because he was hurt and because he did not have enough remaining service hours to complete the task in accordance with federal regulations., Under U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier regulations,  commercial truck drivers are limited in the number of consecutive hours they may spend on the road without adequate breaks.  Upon refusing to make the delivery, the employee was told to remove his belongings from his truck was terminated.

After he was terminated, the employee filed a formal whistleblower complaint with OSHA.  After investigating the matter, OSHAdetermined that there was sufficient evidence to conclude that the company terminated the employeebecause he refused to complete the last delivery.

“America’s truck drivers have the right to refuse to drive when they are fatigued and/or ill and when they may be in violation of hours-of-service requirements, as permitted by current federal trucking regulations,” said Cindy A. Coe, OSHA’s regional administrator in Atlanta. “OSHA will ensure that these basic worker rights are protected and will prosecute any employer found violating them.”

The Employment Law Group® law firm is a leader in the field of whistleblower law and has an extensive nationwide whistleblower practice representing employees who have exposed illegal activity and safety hazards by their employer.

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