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Fleet ordered to pay $131,000 to driver terminated for refusing to violate HOS rules

The U.S. Dept. of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has ordered Brillo Motor Transportation Inc., Marlborough, MA, and its owner to reinstate a former employee and pay him $96,864 in back wages and interest, $9,669 in compensatory damages and $25,000 in punitive damages. The driver had been terminated for refusing to violate federal hours of service regulations, OSHA said.

The order follows an OSHA investigation that determined that Chuck Cappello, Brillo’s owner, violated the employee protection provisions of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA) when he terminated a truck driver in December 2010 when the driver refused to drive a truck from Quincy to Milford, MA, because he was already over his allowable driving hours.

“An employer does not have the right to take adverse action against an employee who refuses to violate safety regulations designed to protect him and the public,” said Marthe Kent, OSHA’s New England regional administrator. “Such employer activity places the well-being of employees and the public at risk if it intimidates workers into violating the law.”

OSHA’s order also requires Brillo and Cappello to pay reasonable attorney’s fees for the complainant, expunge any adverse references relating to the discharge from the complainant’s personnel records and post a notice for all employees notifying them of their rights under the STAA. It also prohibits them from retaliating or discriminating against the complainant in any manner for instituting or causing any proceeding under or related to the STAA.

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