Truck Driver Retaliation (Whistle Blower) Claims
Truck driver retaliation (Whistle-blower) claims
A TRUCK DRIVER WHO REPORTS SAFETY VIOLATIONS OR REFUSES TO DRIVE UNDER UNSAFE CONDITIONS CANNOT BE FIRED IN RETALIATION UNDER THE STAA ACT.
Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA)
Many truck drivers in El Paso, Texas and Las Cruces New Mexico do not realize that they have protection if they report safety violations or refuse to take a load under unsafe conditions that cannot be retaliated against. Truck drivers have rights under the STAA Act under this statute.
What kind of activities are covered by STAA?
- Refusals to drive when you are too tired or the load is unsafe.
- Making a complaint to the United State Department of Transportation USDOT about violations, or possible violations, of commercial vehicle safety regulations.
- Making a complaint to your employer about violations, or possible violations of commercial vehicle safety regulations.
- Testifying at a union grievance hearing or arbitration hearing where the subject of the hearing involves violations, or possible violations, of commercial vehicle safety regulations.
- Refusing to drive a commercial vehicle when impaired due to illness or fatigue.
- Refusing to drive a vehicle that exceeds highway weight restrictions.
- Refusing to violate hours-of-service regulations.
- Refusing to drive a vehicle with defective lamps, leaky exhaust systems, inadequate brake pressure or adjustment.
- Refusing to violate speed limits.
- Refusing to drive in hazardous weather.
- Insisting on thoroughly inspecting equipment to make sure it is safe to operate.
- Refusing to falsify a log book.
You are protected even if you are wrong as long as you make the complaint in good fait.
Concern for road safety
Drivers who are brave enough to take a stand for safety by refusing to break the rules are frequently retaliated against. Davie & Valdez, P.C can help you get Truck driver retaliation whistleblower claims.
When not operated with care and the utmost concern for safety, large trucks on our interstates can be extremely dangerous. Unfortunately, far too many trucking companies require or pressure drivers to cut corners and violate the rules that protect the public. Drivers are asked to drive dangerous vehicles. To save time and money, trucking companies will put vehicles on the road that are overweight, have mechanical defects or are otherwise unsafe. Some in the industry will ask their drivers to violate the hours-of-service rules and drive when they are tired and prone to mistakes. Drivers who are brave enough to take a stand for safety by refusing to break the rules are frequently retaliated against.
Forms of retaliation
Retaliation can take many forms. Companies may fire drivers, but frequently the retaliation is subtler. Instead of firing safe drivers, the company may limit the driver’s dispatches or assign them less favorable routes. Such tactics are less direct, but can be extremely effective in either forcing the driver to comply with the company’s unsafe practices in the future or quit because the working conditions are so intolerable.
Whistleblowing is protected under the STAA. In other words, it is illegal for your employer to retaliate against you for making complaints or refusing to operate under any circumstances that would violate hours of service or any other safety regulation. Contact Davie &Valdez, P.C now to engage more on truck driver retaliation whistleblower claims.
Examples of A Valid Complaint
- “I noticed an audible air leak during my pre-trip inspection. This needs to get repaired before I take the load.”
- “I scaled the load and it is 1500 lbs. overweight. I can’t drive unless this gets corrected.”
- “There is bad weather on my route and it’s too unsafe to drive.”
Employee’s Burden of Proof
An employee suffering retaliation for his or her protected activity in violation of the STAA must generally prove that:
- The employee engaged in one or more the above described STAA protected activities.
- The employer/manager knew or suspected that the employee engaged in the STAA protected activities.
- The employee suffered retaliatory action (adverse action that would dissuade a reasonable employee from ending in the STAA protected activity).
- The STAA protected activity was a “contributing factor” in the retaliatory action.
A “contributing factor” is a factor which, alone or with other factors, in any way affects the outcome of a decision. Each and every case is different and each case requires a detailed analysis by an experienced employment attorney. Several other factors alleged by the employer may require further analysis and could have an effect on the ultimate outcome of the potential litigation.
What Counts as Retaliation
- Termination of employment
- Suspension from work
- Reduction in pay
- Demotion to a less prestigious position
- Discipline points or other disciplinary action
What can a Truck Driver Whistle-blower recover?
A successful complainant under the Surface Transportation Act is entitled to;
- Compensatory damages,
- Attorney fees and costs.
- Damages for emotional distress and punitive damages up to $250,000.00 are also recoverable under the act.
- Once litigation has ensued, it becomes impractical to reinstate a wrongfully terminated truck driver. Under such circumstances it is appropriate for the discharged driver to recover future lost wages.
- Non-monetary relief, such as expungement of any adverse information in personnel files are appropriate under the act.
Seek Legal Advice for Your Claim
At Davie & Valdez, P.C., we have significant experience representing truck drivers who have been wrongfully terminated. If you have been fired or otherwise retaliated against for refusing to participate in unsafe trucking industry practices, let us help you recover truck driver retaliation whistleblower claims. Contact us today.