Neier Required to Pay $200,000 in Legal Dispute
A former tank hauling truck operator came out on the winning side of a court case concerning a controversial firing. Neier, a well-known carrier, was required to pay nearly $200,000 for punitive and compensatory damages, as well as back pay to Michael Butler. The company was also required to reinstate the driver. The controversy stems from Butler’s firing for his refusal to accept a load which, according to him, would’ve caused him to violate federal hours of service limits.
An administrative law judge for the United States Department of Labor said that the company was in violation of laws designed to protect employees from retaliation for reporting these types of violations. The Surface Transportation Assistance Act bars both fining and termination from being used as penalties for employees who refuse to transport a load that would violate regulations. In addition, this act also covers refusal of loads due to adverse weather or personal illness.
The firing occurred in late September, 2013. However, the Indianapolis fleet which features 75 trucks said the termination had nothing to do with the refusal of loads due to safety reasons. The company maintains that Butler refused multiple loads and was two hours late for a meeting with management to discuss the issue. Neier also took issue with the driver not listing a previous carrier employer on his employment application. Butler had also filed a similar complaint against that previous carrier, but ultimately lost the case.
Many at the company also maintained that Butler was hard to reach. However, the court ruled that Butler’s call log proved otherwise, and that the carrier had no documented evidence to back up their claims. Of the $200,000 Butler received, over 61% of it was allocated to back pay. Neier was also required to post the order to be noted by other drivers of the decision.