Truck drivers across the nation are being tasked with keeping our nation supplied with life essentials and in some cases, life-saving equipment during COVID-19. While they are keeping our nation running, who is protecting them when accidents occur? Our nationwide truck driver rights attorneys are here for these hardworking Americans and their truck drivers rights.
FEDERAL MOTOR CARRIER SAFETY ADMINISTRATION PROVISION
Many individuals who go into the trucking industry worry that they will be taken advantage of, and rightfully so. In 2018, a reported 840 truck drivers were killed on the job.
When these accidents and fatalities occur, who is looking out for those individuals and their families?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has provisions in place to protect the rights of truck drivers when injury, coercion, or wrongdoing occurs. In essence, The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates the trucking industry in the United States in an effort to reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving large trucks and buses.
Two of the most common concerns for truck drivers are coercion and retaliation.
COERCION – TRUCK DRIVERS RIGHTS
According to FMCSA, “Coercion occurs when a motor carrier, shipper, receiver, or transportation intermediary threatens to withhold work from, take employment action against, or punish a driver for refusing to operate in violation of certain provisions of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs), Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMRs) and the Federal Motor Carrier Commercial Regulations (FMCCRs).”
To prove coercion has occurred, the individual must show the following existed:
- An intermediary must request a driver to perform a task that would result in the driver violating certain provisions of the FMCSRs, HMRs, or the FMCCRs
- The driver informs the intermediary that a *violation would occur if the task is performed
- The intermediary makes a threat or takes action against the driver’s employment or work opportunities to get the driver to take the load despite the violation
*Common violations include driving over the hours of service limits or creating unsafe driving conditions.
To file a complaint of coercion, the driver must take immediate action as it must be filed within 90 days of the incident. In addition to being time-sensitive, the driver must have all supporting evidence in place such as:
- Messages or email exchanges between parties showing coercion attempts by a motor carrier, shipper, receiver, or transportation intermediary, as well as his or her responses; and
- Names of anyone who may have witnessed the coercion occur
In response to coercion, The FMCSA adopted the Prohibiting Coercion of Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers (Coercion Rule) which explicitly prohibits motor carriers, shippers, receivers and transportation intermediaries from coercing drivers to operate in violation of certain FMCSA regulations, including the drivers’ hours-of-service limits, the commercial driver’s license (CDL) regulations, the associated drug and alcohol testing rules, HMRs, and some of the FMCCRs.
When a driver reports such incidents, the rule allows the FMCSA to issue penalties against motor carriers, shippers, receivers, or transportation intermediaries that have coerced drivers.
While this protection of and from coercion exists, many drivers still face retaliation from their employers after filing a claim.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA) protects drivers from retaliation after filing a whistleblower claim.
Under the act, a person may not discharge, discipline or discriminate against an employee regarding pay, employment privileges, etc. because:
- The employee has or will file a complaint related to a violation of a commercial motor vehicle safety or security regulation, standard, or order, or has testified in such a case; or the employer believes that the employee has or will file a complaint;
- The employee refuses to operate a vehicle because the operation violates a regulation, standard, or order of the United States, or the employee has a reasonable apprehension of serious injury to themselves or the public because of the vehicle’s hazardous safety or security condition;
- The employee accurately reports hours on duty;
- The employee cooperates or will cooperate with a safety or security investigation by the Secretary of Transportation, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or the National Transportation Safety Board;
- Or, the employee furnishes or may 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 in connection with the company.
COMMON FORMS OF RETALIATION
Though regulations exist, these incidents still occur. Common forms of retaliation experienced by truck drivers include:
- Losing job
- Denial of overtime or promotion
- Denial of benefits
- Failure to hire or rehire
- Intimidation and/or harassment
- Reassignment affecting prospects for promotion
- Reducing pay or hours
In addition to these work-related conditions, truck drivers are also highly susceptible to injury when employers do not follow protocol and procedure.
PERSONAL INJURY: TRUCK DRIVERS RIGHTS
Truck drivers work long hours, sometimes in hazardous conditions, without warning. During these times, injury can occur.
The most common work-related injuries sustained by truck drivers include:
- Musculoskeletal disorders of extremities, neck, and back from heavy lifting and unloading
- Falls from height or on the ground level
- Being struck by objects or moving vehicles
- Motor vehicle accidents
Whether you are looking to file a claim against your company for unlawful practices, retaliation, or an injury, you need firm legal guidance from a personal injury and workers’ rights employer for your truck driver rights claim.
ILLNESS ON THE ROAD: TRUCK DRIVERS RIGHTS
It should be no surprise that the longer these drivers are on the road making critical deliveries, that illness and injury may occur. Across the nation, drivers are left perplexed by the lack of guidance on what happens if they fall ill on the job.
Not only is it a stressful job to have, but according to Business Insider, these workers are more at risk for catching the novel coronavirus than other employees.
“There are nearly two million long-haul truck drivers in the US. They are more likely than the average population to be obese, have diabetes, and not have health insurance — making them more vulnerable to experience complications from the coronavirus,” the article explains. But when these major trucking companies like Marten Transport are asked what protocol is, drivers are often left in the dark.
If you are a truck driver who has caught COVID-19 while on the job, know that you have rights. Our truck driver rights lawyers represent full-time employees and independent contractors who have suffered as a result of the negligence of their employer.
I’M A TRUCK DRIVER AND I NEED LEGAL ADVICE.
If you are a truck driver and need legal advice, let us help you take action. You are working tirelessly to provide for our nation during COVID-19. Let us help you seek compensation for your injuries and other’s wrong-doing. Contact us today. We are working with lawyers around the country to solve your truck drivers rights case.