Consequences and protections—that’s what drivers clamor for. Consequences for the segment of trucking companies who operate disreputably, pushing them to drive beyond their legal driving limits and giving the trucking industry as a whole, a bad name—and protections for themselves when they raise safety concerns with the FMCSA.
We’ve heard it over and over.
Within our X Nation community discussions, as well as at last year’s Truck Driver Social Media Convention, drivers have expressed fear about refusing miles that would ultimately result in Hours of Service violations.
Their collective concern?
That they’ll lose their jobs—or that their load assignments in the future will be so severely cut back, they won’t be able to make a living wage. (They’ll tell you there are drivers willing to “bend the rules,” placing the safe, ethical drivers in a precarious position.)
Well, one carrier pushed its drivers to do just that—and now it’s paying the price.
Gaines Motor Lines fined $1+M for firing drivers who blew the whistle
In February and March of last year, four Gaines employees were interviewed by the FMCSA, during an on-site inspection audit. As a result of that audit, Gaines was cited for Hours of Service violations.
Shortly thereafter, those four employees were fired.
In the OSHA investigation that followed, it was determined that the Gaines Motor Lines firings were in violation of trucking whistleblower protections outlined in the Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA)—legislation enacted to ensure drivers can raise safety concerns without fearing retaliatory actions by their employers.
Now, Gaines must pay $1.07 million in back pay wages, interest, and compensatory and punitive damages.
About STAA trucking whistleblower protections
How exactly does the STAA protect motor carrier employees?
If drivers file a complaint or are involved in a legal proceeding related to a CMV safety regulation violation—or if they refuse to drive because they fear their vehicle is unsafe or that it would violate a safety regulation, they may not be:
- Discriminated against with relation to pay, employment terms or privileges
It’s these STAA trucking whistleblower protections that help create an environment where no driver has to weigh safety risks against unemployment.
And that’s good for everyone.
We must do all that we can to ensure our nation’s highways are safe for each and every driver on the road.
And, it’s up to all of us—drivers, dispatchers, safety managers and trucking company executives—to make it happen.