Massachusetts carrier to appeal refusal-to-drive case

A former employee of a Massachusetts carrier ordered to pay a fired driver $131,533 says that now-defunct company is appealing a federal agency’s conclusion that the dismissal was a wrongful firing.

The U.S. Department of Labor said Brillo Motor Transportation of Marlborough terminated the driver in December 2010. Brillo had asked him to drive from Quincy to Milford, but he refused to drive beyond the federal limit on hours, according to the DOL’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The agency ordered the company to pay the ex-employee $96,864 in back wages and interest, $9,669 in compensatory damages and $25,000 in punitive damages. It also must pay reasonable attorney’s fees for the driver and expunge any adverse references relating to the termination from his personnel file.

OSHA does not release names of employees involved in whistle-blower complaints.

But the agency’s July 23 announcement of the order contained inaccuracies, said Chuck Cappello. It listed him as owner, although the Massachusetts Secretary of State identifies only Catherine Cappello as the sole officer of the company, which underwent involuntary dissolution by order of the court or Secretary of State June 2012.

Chuck Cappello said he was general manager of the three-truck company when the driver was asked to pick up equipment in Milford on his way from Quincy to Marlborough. This should take no more than two hours and the driver had had eight hours of driving time remaining, he said.

Following that, Brillo began dissolution and Chuck Cappello began another trucking company last year, he said.

OSHA’s investigation concluded Brillo violated the Surface Transportation Assistance Act, prohibits discrimination against employees who refuse to operate a vehicle in violation of commercial motor vehicle safety.