SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has ordered New Prime Inc., a Springfield-based motor carrier, to pay a former employee over $100,000 after the company retaliated against the truck driver.
According to a news statement, the truck driver was blacklisted in the commercial transport industry after he sought medical attention for a work-related injury.
New Prime Inc., which does business as Prime Inc., was ordered to pay the former employee $100,994.24 in back wages and damages, along with other corrective action.
The driver notified his supervisors in October 2008 that he sustained an on-the-job back injury and was seeking medical attention, according to the statement. A month later, in November, he provided documentation that the condition was serious enough to prevent him from returning to work because he had been prescribed medications that made operating a commercial motor vehicle unsafe.
In July 2009, the driver's physician released him for full duty. He opted not to return to New Prime Inc. and began seeking employment elsewhere in the industry.
After being rejected for a job, the driver learned New Prime Inc. had submitted damaging and misleading information about his employment to a provider of pre-employment and drug testing screening services.
The information appeared on the driver's Drive-A-Check Report, an employment history submitted by former employers in the trucking industry. The driver submitted a complaint with OSHA, alleging violation of the anti-retaliatory provisions of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act.
As a result, OSHA is ordering New Prime Inc. to pay the former employee lost wages, including interest, of $41,373.34, covering the time between July 1, 2009 and April 1, 2010; $40,000 in compensatory damages for pain, suffering, emotional distress and loss of home and property; and $20,000 in punitive damages in light of the company's reckless and callous disregard for the worker's rights under the STAA.
The company must also expunge the complainant's employment and DAC Report records of any reference to his unlawful termination.
KOLR10 contacted Prime on Jan. 6 and was sent the following statement via email:
“Prime’s policy is to not comment on pending litigation. Prime is appealing this investigative finding and litigation will begin shortly. The next step is to have a trial on the merits.”
Employees who believe that they have been retaliated against for engaging in protected conduct may file a complaint with the secretary of labor. More information is available online here.