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OSHA orders carrier to reinstate driver who raised safety concerns

OSHA investigators determined that JHOS violated the whistleblower provision of the STAA when it fired the truck driver for refusing to haul an overweight load.

OSHA has ordered a California trucking company to pay, reinstate driver after raising safety concerns. Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves

A California trucking company has been ordered to pay and reinstate a former truck driver it allegedly fired for raising safety concerns about hauling overweight loads. 

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said Wednesday it has ordered JHOS Logistics and Transportation Inc. (JHOS) of Wilmington, California, to rehire and pay the driver, considered a whistleblower, more than $190,000 in back wages, $25,000 in punitive damages and $5,000 in compensatory damages and attorney’s fees.

OSHA investigators determined that JHOS violated the whistleblower provision of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA) when it fired the truck driver.

Approximately two months prior to the driver’s firing, OSHA said he was cited for operating an overweight commercial motor vehicle owned by JHOS. OSHA investigators stated the size of the overweight load the driver was ticketed for previously was similar to the size of the current load he was asked to haul, which caused him to reasonably believe the vehicle was overweight.

“An employer cannot take an adverse action against employees, such as firing or laying off, demoting, denying overtime or promotion, or reducing pay or hours, for engaging in activities protected by OSHA’s whistleblower laws,” a DOL spokesperson told FreightWaves.

In addition to reinstating and compensating the driver, JHOS must also train managers and post a notice informing employees about workers’ rights under the STAA.

JHOS Logistics has 30 days to appeal the order to the Department’s Office of Administrative Law Judges.

“This order underscores the U.S. Department of Labor’s commitment to protect employees who report violations under Surface Transportation Assistance Act,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Barbara Goto. “OSHA enforces the legal provisions of the act, which protects employees who exercise their right to report health and safety concerns with commercial motor vehicles.”

JHOS, which has four power units and four drivers, hauls intermodal containers to and from the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, as well as general freight.

JHOS’ owner Jahiro Otzoy declined FreightWaves’ request for comment regarding the OSHA order.

 JHOS’ trucks had been inspected 23 times and seven trucks were placed out of service in a 24-month period, resulting in a 30.4% out-of-service rate. This is higher than the industry’s national average of around 21%, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) SAFER system.

Its drivers were inspected 18 times and zero were placed out of service. The national average out-of-service rate is around 5.5%. One of JHOS’ trucks was involved in a fatal crash in the past 24 months, according to FMCSA data.

OSHA does not release the names of employees involved in whistleblower complaints.

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  1. Albert Ferguson

    Shhhweeeeet!!! Who cares about dirty looks from the boss now, aye? If it was me and my boss had a bad attitude after returning to my old job, I’d go and buy myself a truck and skip the boss’s bull!

    1. MrBigR504

      Well somebody is accepting all of those reinstatement fees from all of those outta service fines right? Yeah its a shabby trucking outfit but somebody kept letting them back in business after receiving those reinstatement payments and i guarantee they’re not foreigners! Its all fun and games and cashing checks until the sh-t hits the fan and splatters all on the little guy! Glad he got his just due but i wouldn’t go back to that crap outfit and risk my CDL. He’s got enough money to go get his own truck and trailer now I’m guessing!

  2. Charles Clayton

    I work for a company its all about safety witches is awesome safety come first I was told by my boss to do something was against company policy to drive with out HOS and I refused to do so and told that I refused to do my job and I call the safety department and they told me that they would take care of it but it made it worse so now I have stuff on my DACreport that shouldn’t be on there and now no company will not touch me what can I do about the false information that the put on my DAC

  3. Shirley

    If they give him his job back they will make it a living hell for him or not give him any loads till he quits on his own

    1. Christopher Brown

      I am going through the same thing with my company j.b hunt it’s not the company itself telling me to haul it it’s my boss the law changed in Louisiana you can haul 92 thousand pounds and I haul loggers I told him I don’t feel safe hauling that much weight on a log truck logs or dangerous as it is and he told me if I don’t haul it I will have to find another job be j.b hunt is all about safety first and that’s me safety come first in everything we do someone could get seriously hurt

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Clarissa Hawes

Clarissa has covered all aspects of the trucking industry for 16 years. She is an award-winning journalist known for her investigative and business reporting. Before joining FreightWaves, she wrote for Land Line Magazine and If you have a news tip or story idea, send her an email to [email protected].