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Regulators focus upon company’s retaliation against sick workers

In the realm of bona-fide wage-and-hour complaints against companies that deprive their workers in unethical and illegal ways, there are a lot of stories to tell.

Workers are routinely denied overtime pay they are entitled to, for example. Bad-faith employers find ways to skirt minimum wage requirements. Employees are misclassified in ways that result in money being taken out of their pockets. Workers are dinged for improper pay deductions. Commissions are unrecognized. Tips are withheld or otherwise not credited. Legally mandated rest periods, bathroom breaks and time off for lunch are not provided for by some unscrupulous employers.

Here’s an additional wrinkle in the rip-off-worker files that was recently reported in a national media story. We pass it along to our readers throughout Southern California for its relevance and as a reminder of just how far some employers will go to take advantage of workers.

At one trucking firm in another state, a worker with plenary experience — 25 years on the job, in fact — made a professional judgment that he was too sick to drive.

The company’s response: suspending the driver, without pay.

Shockingly, and as discovered by federal safety regulators investigating the firm, the company had a policy of pushing truckers to work even when sick or exhausted.

In fact, it retaliated against workers in numerous ways when they called in sick, by docking them with no pay, placing negative information in their performance records and even subjecting them to discipline or outright termination.

Inspectors from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have responded to that policy and the adverse worker treatment stemming from it. Regulators recently fined the company $20,000 for its suspension of the above-cited driver and the docking of his pay.

The firm has now been penalized for retaliatory responses against workers twice within the past two years by OSHA.

Source: Overdrive, “Fleet again ordered to pay $20k to a driver who was sick, refused to drive,” Matt Cole, July 22, 2015


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