The US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) ruled that an Arizona trucking company must reinstate a driver who was wrongfully terminated, according to BusinessInsurance.com. M3 Transport L.L.C./SLT Expressway, Inc. terminated a driver who refused to ride in a truck with explosive cargo with a co-driver who smoked cigarettes.
The truck driver should have been protected from any form of punishment or retaliation under whistleblower protection laws of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act. Instead, the driver was told to go home and await reassignment and was terminated two days later.
“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,” read an OSHA statement.
OSHA ordered the driver to be reimbursed $315,000 in back pay and damages.
“Firing or otherwise retaliating against workers who raise safety concerns is unacceptable and against the law,” said OSHA representative Ken Nishiyama Atha. “OSHA will not tolerate this type of behavior, and the Labor Department will actively pursue appropriate legal remedies in such cases.”
Kesluk, Silverstein & Jacob—Los Angeles wrongful termination employees.