New Prime Inc. Fined For ‘Blacklisting’ Driver

Trucker Awarded $1.1 Million

According to a media release from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has fined Springfield, Missouri-based carrier New Prime Inc., $100,994 for “retaliating against a truck driver and blacklisting him in the commercial transport industry after he sought medical attention for a work-reltated injury.”

In October 2008, a truck driver notified his supervisor of a back injury he sustained while on the job and let the supervisor know he was seeking medical attention for the injury.

The following month, the driver provided medical documentation that stated the driver’s injuries required the use of prescription medication that prevented him from returning to the job.

In July 2009, the driver’s physician released the driver to return to work.  The driver opted to not return to New Prime and began applying for driving jobs elsewhere.

“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,” OSHA said in a statement. 
OSHA investigated the driver’s claims and has fined the carrier $41,373.34 in lost wages and interest, $40,000 in compensatory damages for pain and suffering and $20,000 in punitive damages.  In addition, the company has been ordered to expunge the driver’s record.

“Blacklisting an employee and sabotaging a worker’s career is unacceptable. 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,” said Robert Kulick, OSHA’s regional administrator in New York, whose offices conducted the investigation. “OSHA will not tolerate employers retaliating against its employees for reporting violations, including forcing employees to operate commercial motor vehicles when doing so would be unsafe for the driver and the public.”

 

About OSHA and the STAA:

Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who raise various protected concerns or provide protected information to the employer or the government. 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 at http://www.whistleblowers.gov/index.html.

New Prime Inc. or the complainant may 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 enforces the whistleblower provisions of the STAA and 21 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of various airline, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health care reform, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime and securities laws.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visithttp://www.osha.gov