The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently ordered the Auburn, Washington based fleet, Oak Harbor Freight Lines, to pay one of their truck driver’s lost wages. According to OSHA, in 2010, the truck driver notified his carrier that he was sick and taking a prescribed cough medicine. This cough medicine would make it unsafe for him to safely drive his truck. The company then suspended the driver without pay for refusing to drive.
OSHA believes that this trucking company retaliates against workers who refuse to drive for safety reasons, putting them in direct violation of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act. This Act protects all drivers from retaliation by employers when they refuse to drive for safety reasons.
In addition to paying the truck driver back wages, OSHA ordered the trucking company to stop issuing “occurrences” to their drivers, which punishes them for not driving. This directly encouraged truck drivers to break safety regulations, for fear of losing their jobs, being suspended, or receiving disciplinary action.
“Punishing workers for exercising their right to refuse driving assignments is against the law. A company cannot place its attendance policies ahead of the safety of its drivers and that of the public.”
— David Mahlum, OSHA’s acting regional administrator in Seattle
Unfortunately, many trucking companies throughout the State of Washington do penalize their drivers for refusing to drive. This is not only dangerous, but it is also against the law. They may encourage long hours of driving, penalize drivers for delivering cargo late, or even facilitate the falsifying of driving logs. Truckers are then put in a precarious position—risk safety violations or lose your job.
Contact Seattle Employee Rights Attorneys
If you feel that your employer has violated your rights, an experienced Seattle employee rights attorney at Phillips Law Firm can help. If you are interested in learning more about your legal options, call us at 1-800-708-6000. Our Seattle employee rights lawsuit attorneys are waiting to assist you 24/7, offering a free case evaluation. Remember our no fee promise. If we do not recover anything for you, you do not owe us an attorney fee.
The employee rights lawyers at Phillips Law Firm have successfully represented individuals and their families in Seattle, Tacoma, Vancouver, Bellevue, Everett, Kent, Auburn, Renton, Federal Way, Bellingham, Marysville, Lakewood, Redmond, Shoreline, and throughout the State of Washington.