OSHA orders Southern California trucking company to reinstate employee terminated for refusing to drive overweight vehicle

OSHA has ordered JHOS Logistics and Transportation Inc. to reinstate an employee terminated for refusing to drive what the employee reasonably believed to be an overweight vehicle at the company’s Wilmington, California facility. OSHA also ordered the company to pay more than $190,000 in back wages, $25,000 in punitive damages, $5,000 in compensatory damages and attorney’s fees.

OSHA investigators determined JHOS Logistics and Transportation Inc. violated the whistleblower provision of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA) when the company terminated the employee. Two months prior to the termination, the employee received a violation for operating an overweight commercial motor vehicle. The size of the previous load was similar to the size of the current load, which led the employee to reasonably believe the commercial motor vehicle was overweight.

In addition to the monetary penalties, the company must also train managers and post a notice informing their employees about workers’ rights under the STAA. JHOS Logistics and Transportation Inc. may appeal the order to the Department’s Office of Administrative Law Judges.

“This order underscores the U.S. Department of Labor’s commitment to protect employees who report violations under Surface Transportation Assistance Act,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Barbara Goto. “OSHA enforces the legal provisions of the act, which protects employees who exercise their right to report health and safety concerns with commercial motor vehicles.”

OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program enforces the whistleblower provisions of more than 20 whistleblower statutes protecting employees from retaliation for reporting violations of various workplace safety and health, airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health insurance reform, motor vehicle safety, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime, securities, and tax laws and for engaging in other related protected activities. For more information on whistleblower protections, visit OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Programs webpage.

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