Public Transportation workers are protected from Retaliation for refusing to drive in unsafe conditions or an unsafe vehicle under the National Transit Systems Security Act (NTSSA)
6 U.S.C. §1142. In general, NTSSA covers employees of a public transportation agency or its contractors or subcontractors if the public transportation agency provides regular and continuing general or special transportation to the public (e.g., public subway, commuter rail or bus systems). (Employees of providers of school bus, charter, or sightseeing transportation are not covered; however, some of these employees may be protected against retaliation for complaining about workplace safety and health conditions under the Surface Transportation Assistance Act. See https://rogerdavie.com/news/a-truck-driver-who-reports-safety-violations-or-refuse-to-drive-under-unsafe-conditions-cannot-be-fired-in-retaliation-under-the-staa-act). Under NTSSA, a Transportation employer may not discharge a transportation worker or retaliate against a transportation worker because he or she provided information to, caused information to be provided to, or assisted in an investigation by a federal regulatory or law enforcement agency or the transportation worker’s employer about an alleged violation of federal laws and regulations related to public transportation safety and security, or about fraud, waste or abuse of funds intended for public transportation safety or security. If you are a transportation worker, your employer may not discharge or in any other manner retaliate against you because you filed, caused to be filed, participated in, or assisted in a proceeding under one of these laws or regulations. In addition, under NTSSA, your employer may not discharge or in any manner retaliate against you because you reported a hazardous safety or security condition, refused to work under certain conditions, or refused to authorize the use of any safety- or security-related equipment, track or structures. You may also be covered if you were perceived as having engaged in any of these activities (even if you did not actually make the complaint). You must first file a complaint with OSHA within 180 days of the adverse action (termination, demotion, drop in pay etc…). OSHA then should conduct an investigation and make a decision. This decision can be appealed. It is probably important to have a lawyer help you with this process because the initial complaint needs to have what is is know as a prima facia showing that your employer violated this statute. Also if OSHA does not make a timely decision on your claim you may, under certain conditions need to file a lawsuit in the US Federal District Court where the violation took place. However if your employer violates this law you can receive your lost wages (back pay and front pay), mental anguish and attorneys fees and cost. There is a cap of $250,000.00 and your employer can be ordered to take you back as an employee or other actions to put you back to where you would have been had you not been retaliated against. There are many public transportation workers in the El Paso, Texas and Las Cruces, New Mexico who now have protection from retaliation if they refuse to drive in unsafe conditions or driving unsafe vehicles. There are still a few gaps in coverage for some public employees (school bus drivers for example); but between STAA that protects truck drivers from retaliation and the NTSSA for public transportation workers, more and more public transportation employees are being protected from unwanted retaliation.