The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has found that the Metro North Commuter Railroad Co. violated the Federal Railroad Safety Act when it issued a reprimand to an employee who reported a workplace injury. The railroad, which provides commuter rail service to Connecticut, New York and New Jersey, has been ordered to pay more than $6,800 in punitive damages and attorney’s fees and take other corrective action.
“Workers must be able to report on-the-job injuries to their employer without fearing that the employer will take adverse action against them for doing so,” said Marthe Kent, OSHA’s New England regional administrator. “Such action has a chilling effect on workers. If they are afraid to report injuries, then that silence may mask hazardous conditions that could injure or sicken other workers.”
In addition to paying $2,500 in punitive damages to the worker and $4,331.25 in attorney’s fees, Metro North has been ordered to remove disciplinary information from the employee’s personnel record and to provide whistle-blower rights information to its other employees. Either party in the case can file an appeal with the Department’s Office of Administrative Law Judges.
On July 16, 2012, OSHA and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration signed a memorandum of agreement to facilitate coordination and cooperation for enforcing the FRSA’s whistle-blower provisions.
Click here to view the full release from OSHA.