Under terms of a consent judgment, a now defunct North Canton, Ohio-based carrier, Star Air, and owner Robert R. Custer, will pay two Ohio truck drivers $302,000 to resolve a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Labor for terminating two of the company's drivers in violation of federal whistleblower provisions.
Akron Reserve Ammunition, was also named a defendant in the lawsuit because the department alleges that the company, which is owned by Custer, is the successor to Star Air.
"These drivers were fired for trying to protect themselves and the driving public," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "No truck driver should be forced to drive while tired, sick or in violation of truck weight or hours-of-service requirements. OSHA will continue to defend America's truck drivers against unscrupulous employers who unlawfully retaliate against drivers who assert their right to drive safely."
The drivers were dismissed after one was stopped by West Virginia State Police and cited for: hauling an excess load without a commercial driver's license, operating an overweight trailer and driving without a logbook, according to a release. The commercial vehicle also did not have the name of the company, its home base or its U.S. Department of Transportation number displayed.
The driver who was cited informed another driver, who was also operating without the proper information displayed, and they refused to continue driving until these issues were resolved. Consequently, both were terminated.
Both drivers filed complaints with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration alleging that Star Air had discriminated against them in retaliation for activities protected by federal law, and a Labor Department administrative law judge issued the order for reinstatement and back wages.
The companies and Custer will pay the $302,000 agreed upon amount over a three-year period. If any party defaults on payments, the court can order the payment of the entire amount awarded in the judgment, which is $685,785.22. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, in Akron made the ruling.
The U.S. Department of Labor does not release names of employees involved in whistleblower complaints.