October 18, 2021

Volume XI, Number 291

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October 18, 2021

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OSHA Orders Railroad to Pay $536k in Whistleblower Case

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.

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 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.

© 2015 Zuckerman LawNational Law Review, Volume V, Number 184
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About this Author

Jason Zuckerman, Whistleblower Litigation Attorney, Washington DC  Law Firm
Principal

Described by the National Law Journal as a “leading whistleblower attorney,” Jason Zuckerman litigates whistleblowe r retaliation, whistleblower rewards, wrongful discharge, and other employment-related claims. His practice focuses on representing senior executives and senior professionals in high-...

(202) 262-8959
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