In the continuing crusade of Designated Legal Counsel like Ridge & Downes to protect workers’ rights, today we address the “culture of retaliation” on the Railroad. The Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA) protects workers who report workplace safety concerns and workplace injuries.
In 2011, the U.S. Department of Labor ordered Union Pacific Railroad Co., headquartered in Omaha, to pay a total of $400,000 in punitive damages, $90,315 in compensatory damages, $34,900 in attorney fees and more than $90,000 in back wages to three employees.1 Investigations by OSHA determined that the company violated the whistleblower protection provisions of the Federal Railroad Safety Act by terminating two employees and suspending one in retaliation for reporting workplace safety concerns and a work-related injury.
“Workers have the right to report work-related injuries and safety concerns without fear of retaliation,” said Assistant Secretary for OSHA Dr. David Michaels. “Union Pacific Railroad has created a climate of fear instead of a climate of safety. The company must take immediate steps to change this unacceptable pattern of retaliation.” Since 2001, the Omaha-based railway, which operates in 23 states, has faced more than 200 whistleblower complaints nationwide, the Labor Department said.2
In addition to requiring payments be made to the affected employees, the department has ordered Union Pacific Railroad to provide training on whistleblower rights to its managers, supervisors and employees, and to notify employees of their rights to be able to file complaints without fear of retaliation under the FRSA.
OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of the FRSA and 20 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of various airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health care reform, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime and securities laws. Under these laws enacted by Congress, employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who raise various protected concerns or provide protected information to the employer or to the government.
Ridge & Downes represents the rights of workers who have had their whistleblower protection violated by railroads and other employers. Give us a call for a free legal consultation.