A fleet driver has successfully fought back against his employer after refusing to surpass the federal limit on hours of service (HOS).
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA) has ruled that Brillo Motor Transportation Inc., a commercial trucking company in Massachusetts, and its owner must reinstate a former employee and pay him $131,533 after the driver said he would not violate HOS rules and federal safety regulations.
For its wrongful actions, the Marlborough-based company will pay the driver $96,684 in back wages and interest, $9,669 in compensatory damages, and $25,000 in punitive damages.
The OSHA’s investigation of Brillo and its owner, Chuck Cappello, revealed they fired the driver in December of 2010 as a retaliation for his refusal to drive excess hours, which violated the employee protection provisions of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA).
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s "60/7" rule states that drivers who are on duty, and drive 60 hours in a seven-day period, must have 34 uninterrupted hours of rest before operating a motor vehicle again. In this case, the driver refused to drive his truck from Quincy to Milford, Mass., because he was already over his permissible hours.
The OSHA's order also requires Brillo and Cappello to pay reasonable attorney's fees, remove any references relating to the discharge from the driver's personnel records and post a notice for all employees notifying them of their rights under the STAA. It also forbids them from retaliating or discriminating against the driver in any manner for instituting or causing any proceeding under or related to the STAA.
Brillo and Cappello may file objections or request a hearing before the department’s Office of Administrative Law Judges by August 17.
The driver’s name was not revealed because the U.S. Department of Labor does not release names of employees involved in whistleblower complaints.