The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has once again found that Norfolk Southern Railway Co. violated the whistleblower protection provisions of the Federal Railroad Safety Act and consequently has ordered the company to pay two whistleblowers $932,070.46 in damages, including $387,813.75 in punitive damages and attorney’s fees. Additionally, the company has been ordered to expunge the disciplinary records of the whistleblowers, post workplace notices regarding railroad employees’ whistleblower protection rights and provide training to its employees about these rights.
The investigations were completed by OSHA’s office in Chicago and revealed reasonable cause to believe that the employees’ reporting of their workplace injuries led to internal investigations and, ultimately, dismissals from the company.
“Firing workers for reporting an injury is not only illegal, it endangers other workers. When workers are discouraged from reporting injuries, no investigation into the cause of an injury or possible future prevention can occur,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “Railroad workers must be able to report work-related injuries without fear of retaliation. The Labor Department’s responsibility is to protect all employees, including those in the railroad industry, from retaliation for exercising these basic worker rights. Employers who break the law will be held accountable.”
Click here to view the full release from OSHA.