Judge orders fleet to pay drivers $300k after fired for refusing to drive

| November 20, 2013

A judge has ordered an Ohio-based carrier to pay two drivers deemed wrongfully terminated $302,000. The drivers were fired after refusing to drive when they discovered their carriers’ trucks did not have the proper information (company name or DOT number) displayed on the vehicles. 

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The U.S. Department of Labor had filed a lawsuit against the North Canton, Ohio-based Star Air Inc. and owner Robert R. Custer for firing the two drivers. One had been stopped by police in West Virginia and cited for hauling an excess load without a CDL, operating an overweight trailer and driving without a logbook. The truck also did not display the name of the company, its home base or its DOT number. 

That driver told another driver about the situation, who was also operating without the proper display of information, and both refused to drive until the issues were resolved. 

The company then fired both. 

The judge presiding over the case ruled in favor of the Department of Labor, saying the termination of the drivers violated whistleblower protections in the 1982 Surface Transportation Assistance Act. 

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“No truck driver should be forced to drive while tired, sick or in violation of truck weight or hours-of-service requirements,” said David Michaels, assistant Secretary of  Labor the DOL’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration. “OSHA will continue to defend America’s truck drivers against unscrupulous employers who unlawfully retaliate against drivers who assert their right to drive safely.”

The judge ordered the company to reinstate the drivers and pay them back wages. Star Air Inc. — along with successor company Akron Reserve Ammunition and company owner Custer — must pay the drivers the agreed-upon $302,000 over a three-year period. 

  • laserman9210 .

    Ok the first “driver” was cited for not having a CDL?? WTF Maybe I’m dumb but no CDL=NOT a truckdriver in my book. But now he gets back pay and gets reinstated. Only in America

  • Sam

    Only in America

  • David S. McQueen

    Reading between the lines, the trucking company has a lot of serious compliance problems.

  • http://thedotdoctor.com/ Andrea Sitler PhD DsC

    I agree with laserman that No CDL = no driver. That steering wheel holder was in the wrong. However, I agree that drivers need to be allowed, without penalty, to refuse loads when they are out of hours, operating in unsafe conditions, sick, defective equipment, non-compliant equipment and so forth. The back pay seems a bit much but I do agree with the concept in general. For too long drivers have had to deal with been forced to drive when it was unsafe due to the fear of loosing their jobs. We can’t let this go crazy where just lazy “drivers” refuse to work but those with a true issue that refuse loads should not be penalized.

  • Kevin J. Reidy

    It appears that the drivers were operating pick-ups pulling a trailer in a commercial capacity, and was overweight for a non-com license.

  • guest

    Sure…company drivers have been intimidated, abused, horsewhipped into do as they are told…deliver the load on time or be unemployed……company will make you miserable until you quit in disgust if you dont knuckle under…this was old school common practice…so drivers would cheat on the log books and drive equipment that needed repairs to keep their job and get MILES…without complaining…ya learned to make do and get er done…..Many company Owners still operate the same way…Hoping drivers will do as they are told and not worry about Cops??? lol These stooges driving without a CDL etc…..this is the kind of CLOWN these companies Hire….usually ex cons, drunks, dopers…the bigger LOSER he is the better…The OWNER is usually an Ex Con himself!!!

  • Shadow Hauling

    That was what I was thinking also. i know star does pull campers and many of the drivers pull the signs to avoid scales,logs and etc. Its up to the drivers to put these signs on and keep them on. The company cant babysit them once they leave the yard. ive hauled campers and have seen many drivers do this. But now the fed is on to them (the drivers) and cracking down on it.

  • Pingback: Truck Drivers Unlawfully Fired, Win $300k From Employer.

  • John

    How do you reinstate driver without CDL

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