A Springfield, Mo.-based trucking company that allegedly blacklisted one of its drivers after an injury must pay the driver nearly $101,000 in back wages and damages and take other corrective actions, according to OSHA.
OSHA said it determined in an investigation that New Prime Inc. retaliated against the driver by blacklisting him in the trucking industry after the driver sought medical attention for a work-related injury.
According to OSHA, the driver notified his supervisors in October 2008 that he sustained an on-the-job back injury and was seeking medical attention. 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. The driver opted not to return to New Prime Inc. and began seeking employment elsewhere in the industry, according to OSHA.
After being rejected for a job, the driver learned that New Prime Inc. had submitted damaging and misleading information about his employment to a provider of pre-employment and drug-testing screening services, according to OSHA. 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 said it is ordering New Prime to pay the former employee:
- $41,373 in lost wages and interest, 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.
- $20,000 in punitive damages “in light of the company's reckless and callous disregard for the worker's rights under the [Surface Transportation Assistance Act].”
The company also must expunge the driver's employment and Drive-A-Check Report records of any reference to his unlawful termination, OSHA said.
"Blacklisting an employee and sabotaging a worker's career is unacceptable,” said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York, whose offices conducted the investigation. “It can have a dangerous ripple effect if employees are compelled to drive when unwell or under medication because they are afraid they will lose their livelihood."
New Prime or the driver has the right to file objections or request a hearing before the department's Office of Administrative Law Judges within 30 days of receipt of OSHA's order.
OSHA noted that it does not release the names of employees involved in whistleblower complaints.