Have you been terminated for reporting safety violations or refusing to break DOT regulations? You may have a whistleblower claim under the Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA). This law protects commercial drivers from retaliation for filing safety complaints or for refusing to break the law.
Elements of a STAA Case
A successful STAA case involves several elements. First, the driver must engage in “protected activity” by either filing a complaint with a supervisor related to a violation of a commercial vehicle safety regulation or by refusing to drive if doing so would violate the law. A complaint need only relate to a violation of a regulation.
Most of the time, when a driver complains about something unsafe or refuses to break a regulation, companies will work to correct the unsafe or illegal issue. However, some companies may take actions against a driver in retaliation for that driver’s complaints or refusal to drive.
Examples Of A Valid Complaint
- “I noticed an audible air leak during my pre-trip inspection. This needs to get repaired before I take the load.”
- “I scaled the load and it is 1500 lbs. overweight. I can’t drive unless this gets corrected.”
- “There is bad weather on my route and it’s too unsafe to drive.”
What Counts As Retaliation
- Termination of employment
- Suspension from work
- Reduction in pay
- Demotion to a less prestigious position
- Discipline points or other disciplinary action
Finally, a successful complaint must be able to link the protected activity to the retaliation. Were you fired immediately after you refused the overweight load? Were you suspended because you refused to violate hours-of-service?
If you believe you have suffered a wrongful termination or other retaliation by an employer, please give us a call for a free consultation.