Company Must Pay Trucker $190K After Firing Him for Refusing to Haul Overweight Load
San Francisco, CA – A Southern California trucking company has been ordered to reinstate a truck driver it allegedly fired for refusing to haul an overweight load, and pay him nearly $200,000 in back wages.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced it has ordered JHOS Logistics and Transportation Inc. (JHOS) to reinstate a truck driver terminated for refusing to drive what he “reasonably believed to be an overweight vehicle” at the company’s Wilmington, CA facility.
OSHA also ordered the company to pay more than $190,000 in back wages, $25,000 in punitive damages, $5,000 in compensatory damages and attorney’s fees.
OSHA investigators determined JHOS violated the whistleblower provision of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA) when the company terminated the driver.
Two months prior to the termination, the employee received a violation for operating an overweight commercial motor vehicle (CMV), OSHA said.
According to OSHA, the size of that load was similar to the size of the load the trucker then refused to haul, before being fired.
OSHA determined the trucker had a legitimate cause to believe the CMV was overweight.
In addition to the monetary penalties, the company must also train managers and post a notice informing their employees about workers’ rights under the STAA, OSHA said in a statement.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, JHOS is a general commodities and intermodal hauler operating four power units and employing four drivers.
Transportation Nation Network (TNN) spoke to the owner of JHOS, Jahiro Otzoy, by phone on Wednesday evening.
Otzoy had not yet learned of OSHA’s order.
He said the company primarily services the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles and vehemently denied the allegations made by the truck driver at issue in this case.
In fact, Otzoy said the driver was never terminated and is simply looking for “free money.”
“I don’t want to close my business, but it’s impossible to pay this money,” he told TNN.
Further, Otzoy informed TNN he intends to appeal the order and continue fighting the allegations in court.