March 8, 2013: The U.S. Department of Labor Administrative Review Board has upheld a $100,000 OSHA award to a TDU leader and feeder driver who refused to drive unsafe equipment.
John Youngermann, a TDU steering committee member and UPS feeder driver out of Earth City, Missouri has scored a major win against UPS in support of Teamster rights to refuse to drive unsafe equipment.
The original case dates back to April 2009 when UPS fired Youngermann for refusing to pull a trailer with inoperable tail lights and side marker lights.
Youngermann phoned the company to try to get the equipment repaired. When the company ordered him to pull the unsafe equipment, Youngermann refused. He was terminated and later returned to work under the grievance procedure, but without full back pay.
In April 2010, OSHA awarded Youngermann compensatory and punitive damages as well as back pay with overtime and interest.
UPS appealed. Thereafter an administrative law judge from the Labor Department held a hearing and awarded Youngermann the same relief OSHA had awarded him, plus attorney fees. UPS appealed again, but the U.S. Department of Labor Administrative Review Board officially affirmed the ALJ's ruling on February 27, 2013.
Youngermann is represented by attorney Paul Taylor, an expert in whistleblower law from the Truckers Justice Center.
"This case is a real victory for all UPS employees because it shows that employees can receive justice from DOL when they are disciplined for refusing to break the law," reported Taylor.
"I'm really happy we got this ruling for John, because he received the largest punitive damages award ever in any trucking whistleblower case. Through the efforts of TDU in educating commercial drivers John knew he had the right to refuse to drive an unsafe vehicle," Taylor said.
Find Out More About Your Rights
The Surface Transportation Assistance Act ("STAA") protects drivers' rights to enforce truck safety by making it illegal for a company to discipline, discharge or discriminate against an employee for making a vehicle safety complaint or refusing to operate an unsafe vehicle.
Teamsters for a Democratic Union was instrumental in winning the passage of this law and works with Teamsters to enforce it.
Click here to read more about Your Rights to Refuse to Drive Unsafe Equipment.
Click here to purchase the STAA Handdbook: How to Use the Surface Transportation Assistance Act to Enforce Truck Safety and Protect Your Job.