The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration office in Boston has ordered Massachusetts-based motor carrier Brillo Motor Transportation and its owner to reinstate a former employee and pay him $96,864 in back wages and interest, $9,669 in compensatory damages and $25,000 in punitive damages.
The order follows an OSHA investigation that determined that Brillo and Chuck Cappello, Brillo's owner, violated the employee protection provisions of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act when they terminated a truck driver in December 2010 in retaliation for his refusal to drive hours in excess of those allowed under Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations. In this case, the driver refused to drive a truck from Quincy to Milford, Mass., because he was already over his allowable driving hours.
"An employer does not have the right to take adverse action against an employee who refuses to violate safety regulations designed to protect him and the public," said Marthe Kent, OSHA's New England regional administrator. "Such employer activity places the well-being of employees and the public at risk if it intimidates workers into violating the law."
OSHA's order also requires Brillo and Cappello to pay reasonable attorney's fees for the complainant, expunge any adverse references relating to the discharge from the complainant's personnel records and post a notice for all employees notifying them of their rights under the STAA. It also prohibits them from retaliating or discriminating against the complainant in any manner for instituting or causing any proceeding under or related to the STAA.
The company may file objections or request a hearing by August 17.
The U.S. Department of Labor does not release names of employees involved in whistleblower complaints.