OSHA Tells Union Pacific to Pay Hurt Worker $350,000, Says Vehicle Charge Was Pretext

The Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration said March 12 that it has ordered the Union Pacific Railroad Co. to reinstate an employee who was fired for reporting a work-related injury and to pay the worker $350,000 in back pay and damages.

According to an OSHA statement, the worker charged that Union Pacific fired him after he reported a work-related injury in December 2010. The railroad claimed it fired him for misusing a company vehicle.

An OSHA investigation found that the vehicle charge was used as a pretext for retaliating against the worker for reporting his injury, and that the worker’s explanations as to his use of the vehicle were reasonable and consistent with his job duties.

The worker had been with the company for more than 30 years and had twice received the company’s “World Class Employee Award,” the statement said. “An employer does not have the right to retaliate against employees who report work-related injuries,” Charles E. Adkins, the agency’s regional administrator in Kansas City, Mo., said in the statement. “When workers can’t report safety concerns on the job without fear of retaliation, worker safety and health suffer, which costs working families and businesses alike,” he said.

In addition to the award of back pay and damages, OSHA ordered the railroad carrier to remove disciplinary information from the worker’s personnel record and to provide its employees with information about the rights of whistleblowers.

 Click here to read the full release from the Department of Labor.