Worker fired after refusing to drive excess hours in violation of safety regulations

OSHA has ordered Brillo Motor Transportation Inc., a commercial motor carrier located in Massachusetts, and its owner to reinstate a former employee and pay him $96,864 in back wages and interest, $9,669 in compensatory damages and $25,000 in punitive damages.

The order follows an OSHA investigation that determined that Brillo and Chuck Cappello, Brillo's owner, violated the employee protection provisions of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA) when they terminated a truck driver in December 2010 in retaliation for his refusal to drive hours in excess of those allowed under Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations. FMCSA's "60/7" rule states that drivers who are on duty, driving a total of 60 hours in a seven-day period, must have 34 consecutive hours of rest before operating a motor vehicle again. In this case, the driver refused to drive a truck from Quincy to Milford, Mass., because he was already over his allowable driving hours.

"An employer does not have the right to take adverse action against an employee who refuses to violate safety regulations designed to protect him and the public," said Marthe Kent, OSHA's New England regional administrator. "Such employer activity places the well-being of employees and the public at risk if it intimidates workers into violating the law."

OSHA's order also requires Brillo and Cappello to pay reasonable attorney's fees for the complainant, expunge any adverse references relating to the discharge from the complainant's personnel records, and post a notice for all employees notifying them of their rights under the STAA. It also prohibits them from retaliating or discriminating against the complainant in any manner for instituting or causing any proceeding under or related to the STAA.

The company or the complainant may file objections or request a hearing before the Office of Administrative Law Judges within 30 days of receipt of OSHA's order.

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