Anti-retaliation laws are one of the bedrock principles of both federal and state employment regulation. As a general policy, lawmakers seek to protect the interests of employers who opt to come forward with information concerning violations in the workplace – and will generally protect employees’ rights to do so.
In the event an employer is caught engaging in retaliatory measures against an employee exercising his or her lawful right to report a workplace issue, that employer could face liability for not only the alleged violation, but the retaliatory actions as well.
In today’s post, we examine a recent story involving a hardworking New York truck driver who was reportedly terminated for exposing violations of workers’ compensation laws. If you are facing a similar plight, or have questions about workers’ compensation procedures, please contact a New York City workers’ compensation lawyer with Hansen & Associates right away for more information.
The case at hand arises out of an incident occurring in Meridale, New York. According to reports, a driver began his tenure with a trucking company in 2011, and quickly began to notice defects and safety issues with the trucks in the fleet. More specifically, the driver noted the following;
- Ineffective brakes
- Problems with the steering column
- Non-functioning turn signals
- Cracked windshields
Shortly after noticing the issues, the driver requested that the company have the defects repaired – which it quickly refused. Shortly thereafter, the driver contacted the Department of Transportation – which found a total of 16 violations in one truck alone. Shortly after the inspection, the driver was summarily fired from his position.
The abrupt termination of the driver triggered an immediate report to the federal government, including the Occupational Safety Hazard Association (OSHA) and the Department of Labor. Shortly after the report was launched, OSHA found merit to the employee’s claim and ordered the trucking company to pay damages for the wrongful termination. Notably, the company was ordered to pay $32,642.20 in lost wages, $10,000 in punitive damages and $3,060.02 in attorney’s fees.
In a statement by OSHA, “[t]his driver was fired for doing the right thing. A defective truck is a danger not only to its driver but to other motorists on the road. Commercial truck drivers have a legal right to report safety issues to their employer without fear of termination or retaliation. Violating the law can put workers at risk and has costly consequences for the offending employer.”
The violations were prosecuted under the Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA) of 1982. This Act “[p]rovides protections for private sector drivers and other employees relating to the safety or security of commercial motor vehicles,” and contains significant protections against retaliatory measures.
Call an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorney as Soon as Possible
If you are experiencing a difficult or unsafe workplace situation, please do not hesitate to immediately contact the legal professionals of Hansen & Associates in Manhattan today. To get started on your case, please call us at 1-212-697-3701.