The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has ordered Pontiac, MI-based Asphalt Specialists Inc. to reinstate three employees – a foreman and two truck drivers – and pay $953,916 in damages for allegedly firing the employees for raising safety concerns after being directed to violate hours-of-service regulations.
The total penalty – one of the largest imposed on a trucking operation under OSHA’s authority under the Surface Transportation Assistance Act’s employee protection provisions – includes $243,916 in back wages, $110,000 in compensatory damages and $600,000 in punitive damages.
According to OSHA, the foreman was terminated after repeatedly raising concerns to the company’s co-owner about job assignments failing to allow for 10-hour rest periods. At least twice, the foreman and the crew were expected to work more than 27 hours straight, OSHA said. One of the truck drivers was terminated for refusing to sign an affidavit denying that he was required to work beyond the number of hours legally permitted, and the other was fired after raising concerns about vehicle maintenance and the number of hours he was expected to drive, OSHA said.
Asphalt Paving was the second commercial vehicle operation to face an OSHA order in the past week. On Aug. 11, the agency ordered Terry Unrein, a Gresham, OR-based independent trucking operation, to reinstate and pay back wages to a driver allegedly fired for refusing to drive a 10,000-lb. truck with inadequate tire tread on public highways.