People in Wisconsin who are employed as commercial motor carrier workers are sometimes asked to drive trucks in violation of federal safety regulations. The carrier may ask that an employee drive beyond allowable hours or drive a truck that has problems that place both the driver and others on the road at risk.
Because of the need for reporting these actions, the federal government provides whistleblower protection to commercial motor carrier workers through the Surface Transportation Assistance Act. This statute provides protections to workers who cooperate with investigators, who file complaints to report violations, who provide information in an investigation or who refuse to drive in violation of state and federal safety regulations.
Workers who are covered under the act include private sector drivers and other commercial carrier employees. Employers are forbidden from engaging in any retaliatory action against a worker for engaging in a protected activity. Prohibited adverse actions include firing, disciplinary measures, blacklisting, denying promotions, demoting, threatening or engaging in any other similar behavior. Workers who have been retaliated against in such a manner have 180 days in which to file a complaint under the act.
Whistleblower protection laws are in place to encourage workers to report employers who routinely violate laws in their business practice. Commercial motor carrier workers who are asked to violate federal safety laws or who are aware such violations are encouraged by their employers may want to meet with an employment law attorney. People who have experienced a negative job action after participating in or initiating an investigation may want to file a complaint as well. Through a complaint, the worker may be eligible for damages from the commercial motor carrier that violated the STAA, thus receiving compensation for the losses incurred.
Source: Occupational Safety and Health Administration, “Whistleblower Protection for Commercial Motor Carrier Workers”, August 2010