The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is suing Stan Koch & Sons Trucking of the Twin Cities for allegedly refusing to rehire a driver who filed a complaint to the agency about a workplace injury.
The suit filed this week in federal court accused Koch & Sons of unlawful practices and seeks years of back pay for the employee and punitive damages for “malicious and reckless conduct.”
“Refusing to hire an individual because she filed an EEOC charge is retaliation,” said Gregory Gochanour, the agency’s regional attorney in Chicago. “That is the law, and the EEOC will hold employers accountable if they violate it.”
The EEOC says it sought to broker an agreement that would not require Koch & Sons to admit to the allegations, but the company declined.
Kevin Giebel, a Koch executive vice president and general counsel, said Thursday that the company “will be responding accordingly” to the allegations and “strongly believes it violated no laws in this matter.”
According to the suit, Alana Nelson filed two allegations with the EEOC against Koch & Sons. The first contended that the Golden Valley-based company fired her based on her gender because she failed a test after being injured on the job in April 2013.
The second filing alleged that Koch & Sons would not accept her application to get her job back.
Three months later, Nelson took the test used to measure strength, range of motion and endurance and failed. She was fired three days later but was told she could reapply for her job, the suit said.
Nelson filed her first complaint through the EEOC in December 2013 and inquired in January 2014 about working again for Koch & Sons, but she was told “there were no local driver positions available at that time,” the suit said.
She reapplied in April 2014 when there were at least two openings with Koch & Sons for local drivers. That same month, Koch & Sons sent Nelson a letter saying the application was being put on hold because of the pending legal matters with the EEOC.
Along with financial compensation, the suit calls for Koch & Sons to train its staff on employee rights and put the appropriate policies in place.
Koch & Sons offers a range of transportation services, such as freight hauling, logistics, warehousing and truck and trailer leasing. It has a fleet of more than 800 tractors and 2,000 trailers.