A Twin Cities truck driver has been awarded $165,000 from her former employer after the Golden Valley-based company refused to take her back because she failed a strength test following a workplace injury.

The settlement ends a gender discrimination lawsuit filed in May 2019 by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against Stan Koch & Sons Trucking of the Twin Cities for refusing to rehire Alana Nelson, who complained to the agency of gender discrimination.

The settlement, approved by U.S. District Judge Nancy Brasel on Friday, not only awarded Nelson $165,000 in back wages but requires the trucking company to apologize to her either in person or via video hookup.

Koch Trucking also must craft a written policy and train its front office employees on discrimination and retaliation.

"Retaliation has a chilling effect that deters employees from coming forward to assert their rights and interferes with our mission to eradicate discrimination in the workplace," Julianne Bowman, the EEOC's district director in Chicago, said in a statement last week.

The settlement further noted that Nelson, 56, of St. Paul Park, received "a separate private settlement" from Koch & Sons, but the court document did not reveal the amount.

Nelson alleged that the company discriminated against her based on her gender because she failed a test after being injured on the job in April 2013, the lawsuit said. She also alleged that Koch & Sons would not accept her application to get her job back.

Nelson filed her first complaint through the EEOC in December 2013 and inquired in January 2014 about working again for Koch & Sons but was told there were no local driver positions available at that time.

She reapplied in April 2014, when there were at least two openings for local drivers. That same month, the company sent Nelson a letter saying her application was on hold because of the pending legal matters with the EEOC.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482