Under the terms of a consent judgment, a now defunct North Canton, Ohio-based company, Star Air Inc., and owner Robert R. Custer, will pay two Ohio truck drivers $302,000 to resolve a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Labor for terminating two of the company’s drivers in violation of the 1982 Surface Transportation Assistance Act’s whistleblower provisions.
Akron Reserve Ammunition Inc. was also named a defendant in the lawsuit because the department alleges that the company, which is owned by Custer, is the successor to Star Air.
The drivers were dismissed after one was stopped by West Virginia State Police and cited for: hauling an excess load without a commercial driver’s license, operating an overweight trailer and driving without a logbook.
The commercial vehicle also did not have the name of the company, its home base or its U.S. Department of Transportation number displayed.
The driver who was cited informed another driver, who was also operating without the proper information displayed, and they refused to continue driving until these issues were resolved.
Consequently, both were terminated, according to the labor department.
Both drivers filed complaints with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration alleging that Star Air had discriminated against them in retaliation for activities protected by the STAA, and a Labor Department administrative law judge issued the order for reinstatement and back wages.
The companies and Custer will pay the $302,000 agreed upon amount over a three-year period. If any party defaults on payments, the court can order the payment of the entire amount awarded in the judgment, which is $685,785.22.
The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, in Akron made the ruling. The department is represented by its Regional Office of the Solicitor in Cleveland.
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