A Peterbilt worker fired after he complained about close working quarters with other Texas truck factory employees during the early days of the COVID pandemic settled a case filed by the Labor Department on his behalf for $150,000.
Paccar, the parent of Peterbilt Motors, avoided a trial and admitted no wrongdoing in the dismissal of Aaron Carey. He had publicly questioned the heavy-duty truck manufacturer’s safety procedures to protect workers from COVID-19 infections at its Denton, Texas, plant in 2020.
The Labor Department claimed Paccar violated the Occupational Safety and Health Act in dismissing Carey. The parties agreed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas to dismiss the complaint.
Anti-discrimination notice at Peterbilt plant
In addition to two $75,000 payments, one apparently for back pay, to Carey, Paccar agreed to prominently post a notice in the Denton plant for 60 days telling workers that it is against the law for the company to discipline them for speaking up about working conditions.
According to the suit, Carey had raised the questions with plant management. They said work areas would be cleaned and that work would continue. This was during a time when many U.S. manufacturing plants were shutting down and furloughing workers to slow the spread of the virus.
Carey sought reimbursement with interest on his lost wages and benefits from the time of his firing, as well as reinstatement or pay to seek other employment, apparently the second $75,000 payment. Paccar agreed it would not discuss Carey’s separation from the truck maker other than the dates of his hiring and departure.
A Peterbilt spokesperson did not immediately respond to a FreightWaves request for comment.