Surface Transportation Assistance Act- Protection for Truckers

The Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA) is a little known federal law that protects truck drivers (drivers of a commercial motor vehicle, including an independent contractor when personally operating a commercial motor vehicle, a mechanic, a freight handler, or an individual not an employer) from retaliation by their employer for refusing to operate a dangerous vehicle, obeying the law, reporting dangerous conditions, and accurately reporting their driving hours . STAA provides that:    A person may not discharge an employee, or discipline or discriminate against an employee regarding pay, terms, or privileges of employment, because (A)  (i) the employee, or another person at the employee’s request, has filed a complaint or begun a proceeding related to a violation of a commercial motor vehicle safety or security regulation, standard, or order, or has testified or will testify in such a proceeding; or  (ii) the person perceives that the employee has filed or is about to file a complaint or has begun or is about to begin a proceeding related to a violation of a commercial motor vehicle safety or security regulation, standard, or order;
 (B) the employee refuses to operate a vehicle because (i) the operation violates a regulation, standard, or order of the United States related to commercial motor vehicle safety, health, or security; or (ii) the employee has a reasonable apprehension of serious injury to the employee or the public because of the vehicle’s hazardous safety or security condition;(C) the employee accurately reports hours on duty pursuant to chapter 315;
(D) the employee cooperates, or the person perceives that the employee is about to cooperate, with a safety or security investigation by the Secretary of Transportation, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or the National Transportation Safety Board; or
(E) the employee furnishes, or the person perceives that the employee is or is about to furnish, information to the Secretary of Transportation, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the National Transportation Safety Board, or any Federal, State, or local regulatory or law enforcement agency as to the facts relating to any accident or incident resulting in injury or death to an individual or damage to property occurring in connection with commercial motor vehicle transportation.  If the employee is discharged or discriminated against, he/she has 180 days to file a complaint with the Department of Labor.  The DOL may investigate the charge and take action against the employer.  However, if after 210 days the DOL has not acted, the employee may file suit in federal court for damages.  The affected employee only has 180 days from the time of the harm to file the complaint with the DOL and thereafter, their rights under this law are probably lost.  So, if you are terminated for any of the above, you should move quickly and probably talk with an attorney and/or the Department of Labor about your rights.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 15th, 2011 at 2:43 pm and is filed under Texas Employee Rights.


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