Agency orders whistle blower driver reinstated

Jill Dunn | October 27, 2010

The U.S. Department of Labor has ordered a Florida trucking company to reinstate a driver fired for refusing to drive two unsafe trucks.

On Oct. 5, the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration ruled Zurla Trucking violated the Surface Transportation Assistance Act.

The 42-driver company also must pay back wages, plus interest, and compensatory damages and $125,000 in punitive damages. Zurla must also delete adverse references related to the discharge from the employee’s personnel file.

Department spokesman Michael Wald said Zurla had indicated to OSHA it would appeal, which it has to do within 30 days from the ruling. An appeal would not stay the preliminary reinstatement order. Jeff Rice, an attorney representing the Fort Myers-based company, did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

The law prohibits companies from discharging or discriminating against employees who refuse to operate vehicles that violate federal safety regulations.

You can review the department’s publication, Whistleblower Protection for Commercial Motor Carrier Workers, here.