OSHA Award Demonstrates that Employers in New Jersey and Elsewhere May Not Retaliate Against Workers Who Refuse to Violate the Law

The owner of an Ohio-based trucking company recently agreed to pay two former truckers more than $300,000 after it fired them in violation of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act’s (STAA) whistleblower provisions. The two men were allegedly fired for refusing to operate a commercial vehicle in violation of federal law after one of the men was cited by West Virginia State Police for carrying an excessive load and operating a tractor-trailer without a log book, commercial driver’s license, or required vehicle information displayed. Both men were reportedly terminated from Star Air Inc. for refusing to continue driving company vehicles until the issues were resolved.

After the two men filed a discrimination and retaliation complaint with the United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), an administrative law judge ordered the company to reinstate the workers with back pay. The judge’s order was later upheld by the agency’s Administrative Review Board. As part of a consent agreement, the trucking company will pay the men $302,000 over the course of three years. If the payments are not made, the company and its owner will be liable for the entire award of nearly $700,000 issued by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, in Civil Action Number 5:12-cv-02833.

OSHA is responsible for enforcing the whistleblower protections enumerated in the STAA and multiple other Acts. In general, employers may not retaliate against workers who raise specific concerns that are protected by federal law or notify the federal government regarding their concerns. Additionally, employees who are terminated or suffer other retaliation for voicing their concerns may file a complaint with OSHA.

Many state and national laws make it illegal for an employer to retaliate against workers who report their employer’s unlawful, criminal, or fraudulent practices. In New Jersey, workers have a right to file a complaint for discrimination, harassment, and other illegal workplace conduct. If your employer fires, harasses, or otherwise retaliates against you for filing a whistleblower complaint you may have the right to file a lawsuit. A skilled New York employment attorney can help.

Please call the Resnick Law Group, P.C. at 973-781-1204 or (646) 867-7997 if you believe you were unlawfully terminated from a New Jersey or New York workplace. The caring employment attorneys at the Resnick Law Group represent current and former employees in both New Jersey and New York regarding matters that involve workplace rights violations. To discuss your situation with a quality advocate, please contact the Resnick Law Group through our website today.

More Blog Posts:

New York Attorney General Announces Settlement Reached in Pregnancy Discrimination and Harassment Lawsuit Against Syracuse Mortuary School, The New Jersey Employment Law Firm Blog, December 6, 2013
New Jersey Law Protects Workers from Discrimination Prohibited by Proposed Federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act, The New Jersey Employment Law Firm Blog, December 5, 2013
Additional Resources:

Judge orders North Canton-based Star Air, Akron Reserve Ammunition, owner to pay more than $300,000 to 2 terminated Ohio truck drivers, OSHA Region 5 News Release: 13-2052-CHI dated November 19, 2013


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