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OSHA Awards Damages for Fired Truck Driver


In a decision issued August 11, 2014, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) has found that truck owner Terry Unrein fired truck driver Rebecca Barnhard for refusing to drive a truck with a defective steer tire and for complaining that a headlight on the truck operated only intermittently. Unrein owned and operated five trucks, and transported goods under contract with Gulick Trucking.

OSHA ordered Unrein to reinstate Ms. Barnhard to her former position as a truck driver, to pay her $115,000 back wages, and to pay her attorney fees. OSHA also ordered Unrein to post a copy of a notice at its work place indicating that Ms. Barnard had won her case, and that the Surface Transportation Assistance Act protects drivers from retaliation for making complaints about violations of commercial vehicle safety regulations, and for refusing to drive in violation of a commercial vehicle safety regulation.

Ms. Barnhard states, “I am delighted with OSHA’s decision and feel that my decision to refuse to drive an unsafe truck has been vindicated. My employer wanted me to take shortcuts to sidestep DOT regulations and I am happy that the law protected me when I refused to take shortcuts with safety.”

Attorney Paul Taylor

Attorney Paul Taylor

Mx. Barnhard was represented by Mr. Paul Taylor, an attorney with Truckers Justice Center in Burnsville, Minnesota.

A complete copy of OSHA’s decision may be viewed here.

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By: Allen Smith

Allen Smith is a 37 year veteran who started at an early age in a household goods family moving business. He began driving straight trucks in 1977 and moved to the big rigs in 1982. His experience within the industry includes; owner operator, company driver, operations manager, and owner of a long distance HHG moving business, taking many of the long haul moves himself when needed. Allen Smith, a truck driver advocate who is driven by the desire to help others succeed within an industry where injustice, unrewarded sacrifice, and lack of respect and recognition exists. Allen and his wife Donna are hosts of Truth About Trucking ”Live” on Blog Talk Radio. Other websites include AskTheTrucker, TruckingSocialMedia, NorthAmericanTruckingALerts, TruthAboutTrucking, and many Social Media websites. In 2011 Allen and Donna hosted the first Truck Driver Social Media Convention, designed to create unity and solutions for the trucking industry. This is now being extended through the North American Trucking Alerts network as those within the industry join forces for the betterment of the industry. Allen strongly supports other industry advocates who are also stepping up to the plate to help those who share honesty, guidance and direction. He believes that all those involved in trucking need to be accountable for their part within the industry, including drivers, carriers, brokers, shippers, receivers, etc… The list of supporters and likeminded people grow daily, networking together and sharing thoughts and ideas for the betterment of trucking. He has coined the popular phrase "Raising the standards of the trucking industry"

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2 Responses to OSHA Awards Damages for Fired Truck Driver. - Post a Comment

  1. Possible Trucker

    Hooray for Rebecca Barnhard. Now I hope her employer gets reported for this and the feds take action against him. People like Terry Unrein scare me from driving trucks.

  2. Gary Brent

    I am a former FedEx Express Driver Instructor that was fired for taking pictures of unsafe FedEx Ground Trailers and FedEx Express Tractors and Trailers. I refused to use these unsafe FedEx Tractors and Trailers because, I would not violate any FMCSA Regulations. I
    believed if FedEx terminated me for refusing to use this dangerous unsafe equipment, OSHA and The FMCSA would come to my aid, and was I wrong. I filed all the required Whistle Blower forms with the
    local Fort Lauderdale, FL., OSHA Office. I also filed complaints with the TN and PA FMCSA against FedEx for violating FMCSA Regulations. I believed that OSHA was going to work closely with the FMCSA in TN and PA., because they administer a portions of the STAA Whistle Blower Act. What I leaned from dealing with Federal Agencies was, each agency will make up their own interpretations of
    Federal Laws and try to dissuade you from pursuing your Whistle Blower Claim. The OSHA case worker I had in Fort Lauderdale didn’t
    even want to review my pictures of the unsafe FedEx Vehicles and my complaints against FedEx with the PA and TN FMCSA. I had numerous documents and witnesses that OSHA wouldn’t even look at. OSHA in Fort Lauderdale ruled against me, so I appealed their decision through OSHA in Washington. I was told by the OSHA Appeals Office, that I would have to pay my witnesses air fare and lodging in my appeal. Is this a Government by and for the people?
    A fellow Whistle Blower, Brian Gruzalski, Aircraft Mechanic at FedEx
    has endured the same corruption by FedEx and the U.S. Government
    that I have. OSHA, FMCSA and FAA are corrupt.

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