Driver awarded more than $17k in damages in refusal to drive case

Updated Jan 7, 2021

A driver for Frito Lay Transportation has been awarded more than $17,000 in damages following an investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The investigation found that the company acted illegally against driver Joshua Bailey, who refused to work on two separate dates due to illness that he believed would have impaired his ability to drive the truck, when it improperly used its attendance policy to discipline the driver.

According to OSHA, FL’s attendance policy is a “no-fault, five-step attendance policy, which establishes progressive discipline for unauthorized absences.” The investigation found that Bailey’s absences were within the confines of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act, which allows drivers to refuse to drive when his or her ability to drive is impaired.

Both of Bailey’s absences, on Nov. 25, 2015, and Feb. 10, 2016, met work refusal provisions within the act, OSHA says. The agency added that the only way Bailey could have avoided discipline would have been to ignore his doctor’s advice and drive anyway.

As a result of the investigation, OSHA determined FL must pay Bailey $10,000 in punitive damages, $1,500 in compensatory damages and $5,915 in attorney’s fees.

Frito Lay has the right to appeal and adjudicate the ruling to lower the amount it has to pay in damages.

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