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Payout ordered by OSHA in retaliation lawsuit

In a ruling that could affect truck drivers and other workers in Minnesota, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration found that a truck company blacklisted a driver after he suffered and sought treatment for a work injury. They ruled that the retaliation was illegal, and the driver will receive more than $100,000 in restitution from the company.

The driver reported his injury to his superiors in October 2008 and said that he was under a doctor's care. He brought the necessary medical documents to the personnel department that indicated that he was taking medications that kept him from driving safely. He was finally released for full-time duty in July 2009 and looked for work at other trucking businesses. When he was turned down for a job, he found out that his former employer had given deceptive information to an employment history data base that trucking companies can access to review a trucker's work history. The driver filed a complaint with OSHA because of the retaliation against him.

In addition to the financial compensation for the driver's lost wages, loss of property and the company's own reckless disregard for safety, the company must also expunge the negative report. The OSHA regional director observed that the driver's career had been sabotaged and said that drivers need to be able to take care of their health without fear of retaliation. He added that a company should protect public safety, including not forcing a sick employee to go on the road.

Legislation makes it illegal to retaliate against workers who follow standard procedures when they are unable to work. A workers' compensation attorney might be able to help clients seek compensation if they have been treated unfairly by an employer after a work-related injury.

Source: OSHA, "US Labor Department's OSHA orders Missouri trucking company to pay more than $100,000 to blacklisted driver from New Jersey Company found to have violated anti-retaliation protection provided whistleblowers", Leni Fortson & Joanna Hawkins, January 06, 2014

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