The U.S. Department of Labor has filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking back pay totaling more than $500,000 for two area truckers who were allegedly fired in violation of a federal whistleblower protection law.
The lawsuit seeks to enforce a final decision and order to the truckers’ former employer, Star Air Inc. of North Canton, and its owner, Robert R. Custer, the labor department said Wednesday.
The department said Star Air has failed to comply with orders issued nearly a year ago to reinstate the two truckers and pay back wages.
“The drivers were fired for trying to protect themselves and the driving public,” David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, said in a news release issued Wednesday.
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Akron.
Custer, the owner of Star Air, could not be reached for comment. There was no current business telephone listing for Star Air, and a spokesman for the labor department said he did not have a phone number. The court filing did not include a phone number for the business or Custer.
The labor department said the drivers were fired after one was stopped by West Virginia State Police and cited for hauling an overweight load without a commercial driver’s license; operating an overweight trailer, and driving without a log book, among other violations.
The driver who was cited told the other driver, and both refused to continue driving until issues relating to the citations were resolved, according to the labor department. Consequently, the labor department said, both drivers were fired.
The drivers then filed complaints with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and a labor department administrative law judge issued an order for reinstatement and back wages. The department’s Administrative Review Board issued a decision Dec. 19, 2011 ordering the company to reinstate the two truckers and pay $602,366, including back wages in the amount of $341,894 for one driver and $181,468 for the other, as well as $79,004 in attorney fees. On Jan. 18, 2012, the review board ordered the company to pay about $9,839 in attorney fees.
Katie Byard can be reached at 330-996-3781 or firstname.lastname@example.org.