A Wisconsin railroad company has been ordered to pay a former conductor $352,082 in lost wages and damages for terminating his employment after he reported an on-the-job injury. The order was issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration after a whistleblower investigation found that the company had violated the conductor's employee rights under the Federal Railroad Safety Act.
An OSHA representative remarked that the case differed from the usual allegations the agency dealt with regarding the Federal Railroad Safety Act. Most such investigations involve retaliation against employees when they report injuries. In addition to paying damages, OSHA ordered the railroad company to reinstate the conductor and remove any and all disciplinary action involving the incident from his personnel record. The monetary award was comprised of $60,000 in compensatory damages, $75,000 in punitive damages and $217,082 in back pay.
Workers who perform hazardous jobs expect their employers to take all reasonable steps to ensure their safety. They also expect all federal, state and local safety regulations to be followed. When these standards of care are not met, they may be able to seek redress through legal channels. An attorney with experience in this area may be able to help workers when they are terminated unfairly or suffer harassment, discrimination or retaliation in the workplace.
Source: Occupational Health & Safety, "WI Company to Pay $350,000 in Damages to Former Employee", April 12, 2014