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.”
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.