If you have suffered illegal retaliation under STAA, you may be entitled to reinstatement in your job; back pay for lost wages; front pay for future lost wages; litigation costs and attorney fees; and other special damages.
As with all legal claims, deadlines are crucial. Under the Surface Transportation Assistance Act, employees who suffer illegal workplace retaliation must file a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which is part of the DOL, within 180 days.
What activities are covered by STAA whistleblower protection?
Under STAA, an employee engages in protected activity by:
- Filing a complaint or beginning a proceeding related to a violation of STAA regulations;
- Refusing to operate a vehicle because the operation would violate a regulation, standard or order related to commercial motor vehicle safety, healthy or security;
- Accurately reporting hours on duty;
- Cooperating with a safety or security investigation by various government bodies; or
- Furnishing information to authorities about an accident that resulted in death or injury to a person in connection with commercial motor vehicle transportation.
What adverse actions are prohibited?
STAA prohibits any action taken by an employer which has a negative effect on the employee’s terms, conditions, or privileges of employment. This includes intimidation, blacklisting, termination, suspension, demotion, reduction in salary, failure to hire, harassment, and any act that would dissuade a reasonable person from engaging in further protected activity.
What must an employee prove to prevail?
To prevail in a STAA case, employees must establish that they engaged in protected activity and that the protected activity likely triggered the adverse action.
How might an employer defend itself?
Once a plaintiff establishes that his or her protected activity likely triggered an adverse action, an employer may avoid liability by providing a legitimate reason for the action. That shifts the burden back to the employee, who must demonstrate that the employer’s stated reason is just a pretext.
What can a Trucking Safety Whistleblower recover?
A prevailing plaintiff is entitled to reinstatement, back pay, and compensatory damages. In addition, a prevailing plaintiff can recover exemplary or punitive damages up to $250,000.