Professional truck drivers are finally beginning to do something that they have not done for a very long time . . . exercising their rights under employment law. I have often written about and discussed the rights that truckers have, if only they would stand up and utilize what the law provides them.
On July 15, 2010, our Truth About Trucking “LIVE” broadcast with special guest, attorney Paul Taylor, entitled, “Forced Dispatch,” further expanded on the rights that all truck drivers have as it pertains to OSHA and how they are protected from any kind of retaliation by the trucking company, under the STAA, 49 U.S.C. Section 31105.
Most recently, Interline Logistics Group which is based out of Georgia, was ordered to pay a terminated driver over $190,000 for what OSHA determined was an act of retaliation by the company after the driver reported safety concerns with the tractor’s brakes as well as refusing to violate the hours of service (HOS) rule. When the driver’s dispatcher told him to go and pick up a load, the driver refused due to already being over the allowed work hours. The driver was terminated for failing to follow dispatch instructions.
The legal rights of the truck driver turned out to be more powerful than the trucking company and the dispatcher discovered that you can not legally force a professional driver to violate HOS rules or to operate the CMV in a way that would violate a Federal Commercial Motor Vehicle Regulation . . . especially a truck driver who understands their rights under the law.
I can not stress enough that as truck drivers, you have rights, but you must stand up and use those rights when the motor carrier, dispatcher, terminal operator, load coordinator, CEO . . . whoever, refuses to abide by the FMCSA regulations or OSHA compliance and instead, chooses to abuse their authority over the driver. As a driver, you have protective rights and just as recently as March 1, 2012, OSHA has stated that they are elevating their priority in ensuring “The ability of workers to speak out and exercise their rights without fear of retaliation . . .”
The Whistleblower Protection Program
The Whistleblower Protection Program prohibits any person from discharging or in any manner retaliating against any employee because the employee has exercised rights under the OSH ACT. Such actions by the trucking company against the driver can include:
- Firing or laying off
- Blacklisting (Such as the use of false information on the DAC Report)
- Denying overtime or promotion
- Denial of benefits
- Failure to hire or rehire
- Making threats
- Reassignment affecting prospects for promotion
- Reducing pay or hours
If you believe your motor carrier has discriminated against you because you exercised your legal rights as a professional truck driver, contact your local OSHA Office to file a complaint.
You do have rights. Stand up, stand firm.
© 2012, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.