Whistleblower Disciplined for Reporting an Injury
OSHA ordered Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway to pay $536K in damages for violating the whistleblower retaliation provision of the FRSA. Burlington Norther took disciplinary action against a conductor shortly after reporting an injury and within six months of the conductor filing a FRSA whistleblower complaint at OSHA, the company terminated his employment.
In addition to ordering Burlington Northern to pay the conductor punitive and compensatory damages, OSHA ordered Burlington Northern to rehire him and expunge his record of all charges and disciplinary action.
Whistleblower Protection for Railroad Workers
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 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 FRSA 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.
Whistleblower Protection Attorneys
Washington DC whistleblower law firm Zuckerman Law represents whistleblowers nationwide under federal whistleblower protection laws, including the Whistleblower Protection Act, the Sarbanes-Oxley whistleblower law, and the False Claims Act and NDAA anti-retaliation provisions.
To schedule a free preliminary consultation, click here or call us at 202-262-8959.