Driver Reinstated By Trucking Company After Investigation by OSHA Found Unlawful Termination

Friday, August 15, 2014

An Oregon trucker wrongly fired for refusing to drive an unsafe vehicle will get her job back, plus reimbursement for back wages and compensation for fees associated with the case, after an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

OSHA has ordered Terry Unrein, an independent trucking contractor in Gresham, Oregon, to reinstate a driver fired in late 2011 for refusing to drive a 10,000-pound truck with inadequate tire tread on public highways. Driving under these conditions violated federal transportation regulations enforced by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.  Unrein fired the driver eight days after she had the truck's tire replaced before driving on the highway.

The driver filed a whistleblower complaint, and OSHA cited that the driver's termination violated the Surface Transportation Assistance Act's employee protection provisions.

Either party to the case can file an appeal to the department's Office of Administrative Law Judges. The appeal does not stay the preliminary reinstatement order.

OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of more than 20 statues protecting employees who report violations of various commercial motor carrier, airline, nuclear, pipeline, environmental, public transportation agency, consumer product, motor vehicle safety, railroad, maritime, health care reform, food safety, securities and financial reform laws. 

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