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Being Pressured to Violate FMCSA Regulations? There’s Help for That
Foley
4 mins read

JANUARY 31, 2019 – Has an employer ever tried pressuring you to violate your hours or service or FMCSA regulations?

It’s an all-too-common problem in an industry that is under constant pressure to meet delivery deadlines. For some drivers, it may be an occasional occurrence – perhaps when detainment times are longer than usual (or road construction forces a long detour). For others, it can be constant pressure to exceed their hours of service limits, drive with an overweight vehicle or violate some other FMCSA regulation.

For drivers who don’t want to end up in the unemployment line, it can create a serious struggle: do they risk their job? Or do they take their chances and risk a violation instead?

In an effort to protect drivers, the FMCSA has two rules and reporting procedures in place: harassment and coercion.

Harassment

Part of the ELD rule, the FMCSA defines harassment as an “action by a motor carrier toward a driver (whether an employee or a contractor) that the carrier knew or should have known would result in an HOS violation in 49 CFR 395 or 49 CFR 392.3.”

As the definition above shows, harassment only applies to a driver’s use of an electronic logging device. This includes the driver’s ability to mute the ELD when in the sleeper berth and the preservation of original ELD records (even when edited).

If a driver feels like they are being harassed by their employer, the FMCSA encourages them to file a written complaint within 90 days using the National Consumer Complaint Database at  http://nccdb.fmcsa.dot.gov or with the FMCSA Division Administrator in the state where the driver is employed. A list of field offices is listed here: http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/mission/field-offices

Coercion

This rule is much broader than harassment, and covers all aspects of the FMCSA regulations. It prohibits employers from terminating a driver’s employment, or otherwise punishing him/her, for refusing to violate federal regulations. If a driver feels like they’re being pressured to violate the law, or has been subject to adverse action because they refused to participate in activities that do violate the law, they are encouraged to file a complaint with the FMCSA. Complaints must be filed within 90 days and should include as much supporting information as possible (text message and email communications, for example).

All complaints must be submitted in writing to the Division Office in the state where the driver is employed, or filed with the National Consumer Compliant Database.

If you’re concerned about the impact filing a harassment or coercion complaint could have on job, you should know that there are protections in place for you through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). You can learn more about your rights here: https://www.whistleblowers.gov/.

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