Trucking company ordered to pay $315,000, reinstate whistleblower

By Clarissa Kell-Holland, Land Line staff writer | 8/31/2012

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration ordered a Arizona-based trucking company to immediately reinstate a driver and pay the driver more than $315,000 in back pay and damages.

On Tuesday, Aug. 28, OSHA ordered the company to pay the truck driver $280,000 in back wages and interest, $15,000 in compensatory damages and $20,000 in punitive damages.

The driver worked for M3 Transport LLC/SLT Expressway Inc., now operating as Roadmaster Group of Glendale, AZ. The company has 30 days to file an objection or request a hearing.

According to the OSHA release, the driver was assigned a new co-driver to take a load of explosives up into Canada.

“Upon finding an ashtray overflowing with cigarette butts in the new co-driver’s truck, the employee notified supervisors that driving with this individual would be unacceptable because smoking while hauling explosives violates federal regulations,” the release stated.

The driver was told to go home and wait to be assigned a new co-driver, but instead was fired two days later. 

OSHA found that the company violated the whistleblower provisions of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act after the driver was allegedly fired for reporting safety concerns to company officials.

Federal regulations specifically state that drivers are not allowed to “smoke or carry a lighted cigarette, cigar or pipe on or within 25 feet of a motor vehicle which contains explosives, oxidizing materials or flammable materials.”

The OSHA order also requires the trucking company, which hauls explosives for military and defense contractors, to “expunge any adverse references in the discharge from the complainant’s personnel records, and post a notice for all employees notifying them of their rights under the STAA.”

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