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OSHA Reinstates Heartland Transportation Inc. Whistleblower

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Last week the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) found that Heartland Transportation Inc., a contract mail carrier for the U.S. Postal Service, violated the whistleblower provisions of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act when it fired a driver for reporting safety hazards. OSHA ordered Heartland to reinstate the driver and pay him $62,090 in compensatory and punitive damages plus more than two years of back wages, interest, benefits, and reasonable attorney’s fees.

According to OSHA, the employee made several complaints about recurring mechanical failures in trucks and refused to drive those trucks which had recurring mechanical failures.  Heartland responded to the complaints by removing the driver from its schedule and then terminating him when he met with Heartland management to discuss his schedule changes.

After his termination, the driver filed a whistleblower complaint with OSHA. In addition to reinstatement and economic damages, OSHA ordered Heartland to expunge any adverse references from the driver’s personnel records and to post notices and fact sheets for employees to inform them of their rights under the STAA.

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