The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has ordered Polar Service Centers to reinstate and pay $190,547 in back wages and damages to a fired safety manager that blew the whistle on safety violations by a customer.

A federal investigation found that the commercial tank trailer company violated the whistleblower provisions of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act when it demoted, censured and forced the manager to resign for reporting a potential safety violation. He reported to the U.S. Department of Transportation that he suspected a Polar customer of improperly certifying trailers to haul hazardous waste.

His employer barred him from talking to customers or to the DOT for reporting the violation. The safety manager also requested that the driver of the Polar customer provide information about the potential safety violation to DOT.

OSHA ordered Polar to reinstate the safety manager to his position and pay him back wages, punitive and compensatory damages, and attorney fees.

"Censuring a worker for complying with the law clearly violates the whistleblower provisions of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act," said Ken Nishiyama Atha, OSHA's regional administrator in Chicago. "This employee did the right thing to protect others and was punished for it."

OSHA is giving both parties 30 days from the receipt of OSHA’s findings to file objections and request a hearing before an administrative law judge.