OSHA and FMCSA Partner to Protect Truck Drivers In "Anti-retaliation Regulation"

by Jana Ritter - Published: 10/01/2014

OSHA and the Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration have signed a memorandum agreement that will strengthen their allegiance in working together to protect truck drivers by enforcing the anti-retaliation provisions of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act.

The STAA law protects truck drivers and employees of commercial trucking companies from retaliation by their employers for reporting company violations of safety, health and security.

Surface Transportation Assistance Act

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The original law implemented in 1970, states that employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful work environment for employees. The law also indicates that its OSHA’s job to guarantee these conditions exist for all employees of a company. While there have been more than 2,800 cases filed under the STAA over the last nine years, regulators are hopeful that bringing the FMCSA will be the first major step in making the overall process more effective and efficient in resolving every reported case.

The newly signed memorandum is meant to strengthen enforcement of the STAA law with the two agencies working closer together and more effectively to end abuses by employers. The main focus is to enforce the part of law that states employers may not discriminate against employees for reporting them to the authorities for violations of safety laws. Because many employers are continuing to violate this term, the memorandum is stepping up their efforts to protect employees by strengthening the OSHA and FMCSA information sharing services, allowing victims legal representation and adding remedies that will serve to reinstate employment and/or assist in collecting fines from employers.

While some employers are simply unaware that these anti-discrimination laws even exist, others think that intimidation is a more powerful remedy for employee compliance. But there are critics who also say these kind of laws are outdated and give employers an unfair presumption of guilt when they could very well have other legitimate reasons for terminating the employee.

However, perhaps it’s the underlying point of the law that the new memorandum will serve. Further encouraging the reporting of safety violations and any other wrongdoing, is not only inherent to protecting the truck drivers who are at stake everyday they do their job, but all the other motorists sharing the roads with them.

Whether they agree or not, employers will be made aware of the memorandum and encouraged to revise their compliance procedures accordingly.

Do you think the new memorandum will be effective enough to improve the situation and encourage more truck drivers to come forward?