OSHA Awards $250,000 in Punitive Damages in FRSA Whistleblower Retaliation Case
OSHA ordered Metro-North to pay $250,000 in punitive damages to a former coach cleaner for the commuter rail carrier who suffered retaliation for reporting a work injury. According to OSHA’s press release, “[w]hile driving the injured employee to the hospital, a Metro-North supervisor also intimidated the worker, reportedly telling the worker that railroad employees who are hurt on the job are written up for safety and are not considered for advancement or promotions within the company.” Shortly after reporting the work-related injury, Metro-North issued disciplinary charges against him.
The Federal Railroad Safety Act prohibits retaliation against a railroad employee who provides information to a regulatory or law enforcement agency, a member of Congress, or any person with supervisory authority over the employee about a reasonably perceived violation of federal law relating to railroad safety or security, or the abuse of public funds appropriated for railroad safety. In addition, the FRSA whistleblower retaliation law protects an employee who:
- refuses to violate a federal law, rule or regulation related to railroad safety or security;
- files a complaint under FRSA;
- notifies or attempts to notify the railroad carrier or Department of Transportation of a work related personal injury or illness of an employee;
- cooperates with safety or security investigations conducted by the DOT, Department of Homeland Security, or National Transportation Safety Board;
- furnishes information to the DOT, DHS, NTSB, or any federal, state or local law enforcement agency regarding an accident resulting in death or injury to a person in connection with railroad transportation; or
- accurately reports hours on duty.
A prevailing whistleblower can obtain a wide range of remedies, including: (1) reinstatement, (2) back pay, (3) compensatory damages, (4) attorney fees and litigation costs; and (5) punitive damages up to $250,000.
Click here to learn more about the damages that can be recovered in a whistleblower retaliation case.
Whistleblower Retaliation Damages
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