As a truck driver, you have the right to be safe and refuse to break the law. If your employer unlawfully disciplines or otherwise retaliates against you for refusing to violate hours-of-service regulations or to run the CMV in a manner that would violate a Federal Commercial Motor Vehicle Regulation, then you can report them to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) or Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
The Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA) provides a simple yet effective solution for truck drivers who are wrongfully terminated for refusing to break the Federal Motor Carrier safety rules as set by the FMCSA. If the employer retaliates against the driver for an issue where the driver is covered from retaliation, then the truck driver may file a claim that could lead to reinstatement, compensation for lost wages and benefits, attorney costs and fees and other damages.
Here are some of your rights as a truck driver:
Refusing to drive unsafe equipment
It’s not uncommon for truck drivers to get offers from trucking companies that aren’t complacent with the FMCSA. If you happen to find yourself in such a situation, then you have the right to turn down the offer of driving unsafe equipment. Under the STAA law, trucking companies are prohibited from disciplining, discharging and discriminating you because of your decision. STAA also focuses on other activities like retaliation over running times, DOT regulations, and refusal to drive under bad weather.
The right to file official complaints and legal lawsuits
If you find yourself in any unwanted situation, you can file formal charges and legal lawsuits against your employer, thanks to the Development Assistance Committee (DAC). Here, you can find highly specialized lawyers, like the professionals at the Sattiraju Law Firm, who understand trucking industry, and are capable of stopping any retaliation for filing a negative claim. The attorneys can also help you with trucking accidents and workplace injuries.
Not agreeing to drive under hazardous weather conditions
You have a right to refuse to drive under adverse weather conditions, like when the roads are covered with snow and ice (unless you are an ice road trucker) because it is unsafe. This right is supported by the United States Code of Federal Regulations.
Many truck companies classify truck drivers as independent contractors instead of employees, to cut off the need of paying specific types of benefits. If you have reason to think that you are an employee, but aren’t getting the benefits of being an employee since you are classified as an independent contractor, you may want to file a claim against your employer.
Other activities protected under the STAA include refusing to:
- Violate hours-of-service rules
- Drive commercial care when impaired due to fatigue or illness
- Drive a car that supersedes highway weight restrictions
- Drive a vehicle with leaky exhaust systems, defective lamps, insufficient break pressure, etc.
- Violate speed limits
- Falsify a log book
The employer is prohibited from discriminating or retaliating towards you for exercising your OSHA rights. Examples of discrimination can include:
- Firing or laying off
- Denying overtime or promotion
- Failure to hire or rehire
- Assigning to undesirable shifts
- Denial of benefits
- Reducing pay or hours
- Reassigning work