A truck driver who reported to the Dept. of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration(OSHA) that he had been fired for complaining about safety issues was awarded $315,000 in back wages and damages.

The complaint also alleged the driver was fired in part because of a refusal to share a truck with another driver who smoked. The driver filed the complaint on Feb. 8, 2010, stating that they were informed that a new co-driver had been assigned to haul a vehicle full of explosives to Canada. Upon finding an ashtray overflowing with cigarette butts in the new co-driver’s truck, the employee notified supervisors that driving with this individual would be unacceptable because smoking while hauling explosives violates federal regulations, according to OSHA. The employee was then told by management to go home and wait to be reassigned a new co-driver. Two days later, the employee was terminated.

OSHA determined that M3 Transport LLC/SLT Expressway Inc. — and its successors-in-interest, Lyons Capital LLC and Roadmaster Group — violated the whistleblower provisionsof the Surface Transportation Assistance Act and ordered the trucking company to reinstate the driver and pay $280,000 in back wages and interest, $15,000 in compensatory damages and $20,000 in punitive damages.

In addition to reinstatement and compensation for the employee, the order issued by OSHA requires the trucking company to 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.

M3 Transport LLC/SLT Expressway Inc., now operating as the Roadmaster Group, specializes in transporting explosives for military and defense contractors, as well as heavy hauling. Within 30 days of receipt of OSHA’s order, the company or complainant may file objections or request a hearing before the Labor Department’s Office of Administrative Law Judges.