SMITH LAW has successfully represented individuals in whistleblower/retaliation actions arising under various laws enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”).
SMITH LAW represents “Trucking Whistleblowers” who have been disciplined or discharged in violation of the anti-retaliation provision of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982 (“STAA”), as amended. The STAA’s anti-retaliation provision protects drivers of commercial motor vehicles and individuals who directly affect commercial motor vehicle safety (e.g. mechanics) from “adverse employment actions” because they engage in protected conduct—refuse to drive in violation of commercial motor vehicle safety regulations or complain about violations of commercial motor vehicle safety regulations. The term “adverse employment action” means any action taken by your employer to discourage you from opposing a violation of commercial motor vehicle safety regulations or from refusing to participate in a violation of commercial motor vehicle safety regulations. Examples of “adverse employment actions” include: termination; demotion; reduced work hours; threats of reprisal; and unjustified negative evaluations. The term “protected activity” is broadly construed under the STAA and includes conduct such as complaining to your supervisor; filing a complaint with OSHA; testifying in a proceeding related to a violation of commercial motor vehicle safety; refusing to falsify a log book; refusing to exceed the hours-of-service regulations; refusing to drive a vehicle that exceeds highway weight restrictions; refusing to exceed speed limits; refusing to drive in hazardous weather conditions; and refusing to pull a trailer at night with a broken tail light.
In order to prevail on your STAA whistleblower/retaliation claim, you must establish that: (1) you engaged in “protected activity”; (2) your employer knew about your “protected activity”; (3) your employer took an “adverse employment action” against you; (4) your “protected activity” was a contributing factor in your employer’s decision to take the “adverse employment action” against you.
If your employer discharges, disciplines or discriminates against you regarding pay, terms, or privileges of employment, because you refuse to violate commercial motor vehicle safety regulations (e.g. driving in excess of the maximum driving time permitted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration), you may have a retaliation claim against your employer under the STAA. Likewise, if your employer discharges, disciplines or discriminates against you regarding pay, terms, or privileges of employment, because you told a supervisor about your concern that the company was violating a commercial motor vehicle safety regulation, you may have an STAA whistleblower/retaliation claim against your employer, even if you are mistaken.
Under the STAA, an employee is entitled to reinstatement, back pay with interest, compensatory damages for emotional distress and loss of reputation, expungement of the termination, and attorneys’ fees and costs. An employee may also be entitled to punitive damages where the employer acts recklessly or intentionally.
There are important deadlines that must be met in order to preserve your whistleblower/retaliation claims against your employer. If you believe that your employer has violated the STAA, please contact the Georgia whistleblower lawyers at SMITH LAW immediately for assistance. If OSHA dismissed your whistleblower/retaliation claims against your employer, please contact the Georgia whistleblower attorneys at SMITH LAW immediately regarding a possible appeal of that decision.