The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has fined Brindi Trailer Sales and Services for illegally terminating a driver who brought up safety concerns about his truck.
Shortly after being hired by Brindi in 2011, the driver began notifying the company of defective equipment on his truck, including ineffective brakes, steering issues, non-functioning turn signals, leaks and a cracked windshield, according to OSHA. He requested the problems be fixed but the company refused.
In February 2012, the driver contacted the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation about the issues. The truck was inspected and 16 violations were found. The truck was pulled from service until the repairs were made. When the driver notified Brindi, he was discharged. The driver filed a whistleblower complaint with OSHA, which found merit in the complaint.
Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who raise certain protected concerns or provide protected information to the employer or to the government.
Brindi was ordered to pay the driver $32,642 in lost wages, $10,000 in punitive damages and $3,060.02 in attorney’s fees as well as to expunge the driver’s employment records. Firing the driver violated the anti-discrimination provisions of the Surface Transportation Assistance ACT, according to OSHA.
“This driver was fired for doing the right thing,” said Robert Kulick, OSHA’s regional administrator in New York. “Commercial truck drivers have a legal right to report safety issues to their employer without fear of termination or retaliation. Violating the law can put workers at risk and has costly consequences for the offending employer.”