Drivers

OSHA Orders Small Fleet to Rehire Fired Trucker, Pay Back Wages

August 13, 2014

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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, Ore., to reinstate an unidentified driver fired in late 2011 for refusing to drive a 10,000-pound truck with inadequate tire tread on public highways.

The small fleet reportedly had five drivers working for the company at the time of the firing.

Driving under these conditions violated federal transportation regulations, according to OSHA. 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.

Unrein has reportedly filed an appeal of the decision, according to Landlinemag.com, which could take a year to complete. The appeal does not stay the preliminary reinstatement order. He also claims the driver was terminated after being in an accident, but OSHA did not find evidence to support this claim in its investigation

Unrein has been ordered to pay back $115,200 in back wages and may be forced to pay $2,600 in attorney fees.

OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of more than 20 statues protecting employees who report violations of various types of business including those providing commercial motor carrier services. 

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