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Under the Surface Transportation Act (STAA), 49 U.S.C. 31105(a)(1)(C) employers cannot retaliate against truck drivers for accurately reporting hours on duty pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 31501, et seq. The maximum driving times are listed in 49 C.F.R. 395.3. A truck driver does not have the comply with his or her employer’s demand to drive over the maximum drive times established by 49 C.F.R. 395.3 and/or falsify their reports of hours on duty.

The U.S. Department of Labor/OSHA says that protection from workplace retaliation means that an employer cannot take “adverse action” against workers such as:

(1) Firing or laying off

(2) Blacklisting

(3) Demoting

(4) Denying overtime or promotion

(5) Disciplining

(6) Denial of Benefits

(7) Failure to hire or rehire

(8) Intimidation/harassment

(9) Making threats

(10) reassignment affecting prospects for promotion

(11) Reducing pay or hours.

You may have a retaliation claim against your employer if you accurately reported your hours on duty and your employer retaliated against you by taking any of the above described “adverse action.” You will need to prove that your protected activity of accurately reporting your hours on duty was a “contributing factor” in the adverse employment action. An employee’s protected activity is a contributing factor if the protected activity “tended to affect in any way the outcome of the decision to take the adverse action against the employee.” See James v. CSX Transp. Inc., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 143640 at *15 (M.D. GA Feb. 21, 2017).

Under 49 USC 31105(j) the definition of “employee” also includes an independent contractor when personally operating a commercial motor vehicle. So an employer cannot retaliate against an independent contractor driving a commercial motor vehicle who accurately reports his or her hours on duty. See 29 C.F.R. 1978.101(h).

If you believe that you suffered adverse action in violation of the anti-retaliation provisions of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act, 49 U.S.C. 31105, the law limits the time you have to file a complaint with the Secretary of Labor to 180 days after the alleged violation occurred. See 49 U.S.C. 31105(b)(1). Therefore, you should immediately contact a competent lawyer as soon as possible to review the facts of your claim to determine what rights you may have.

If you would like to learn more about the protections against retaliation under the Surface Transportation Assistance Act and the remedies available call Brian J. Graber, Ltd., at (312) 291-4648 for a free consultation.