Railroad employees have long recognized that their employers have a well-established culture of harassment and intimidation with regard to the reporting of work related injuries and safety issues in general. At long last, there is now protection for employees who report injuries or unsafe conditions (see our railroad blog).
It is now a violation of Federal Law for a railroad to: "discharge, discriminate, demote, suspend, reprimand, or in any way discriminate, in whole or in part, against an employee that notifies or attempts to notify the railroad of a work related personal injury or illness." 49 U.S. C. 20109(a)(4).
If the railroad violates any of these rights, the employee has the right to file a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. If successful, the employee is entitled to reinstatement, back pay with interest, attorneys fees and potential punitive damages up to $250,000.00.
What Should You Do If You Are Injured?
- You must verbally report your injury to your supervisor immediately.
- You must complete a written accident report form as soon as possible after the injury.
- If the symptoms of the injury do not become known right away, then the injury must be reported as soon as you feel any symptoms no matter how minor.
- It is CRITICAL if there are any issues of fault (i.e, defective equipment, dangerous working conditions, error of co-employees or management, etc.) they must be listed on the written accident report. Your recovery against the railroad for the injuries and damages you sustain will be based upon negligence of your employer. If there is no railroad negligence that caused in whole or in part the injury you sustained, you will not recover ANY damages for your injury.
What Are Your Rights With Regard To Medical Treatment For Your Injury?
- The railroad may not harass or intimidate an employee in a manner designed to discourage or prevent such employee from receiving proper medical treatment or from reporting and accident, incident or injury. 49 C.F.R. 225.33.
- The railroad may not tell an injured employee that he will be disciplined or investigated if an injury report is filed. 49 C.F.R. 225.33.
- The railroad may not discipline an employee if the railroad interfered with the employee's ability to make prompt report of the injury. 49 C.F.R. 225.33.
- The railroad may not refuse to furnish the injured worker with an injury report form. 49 C.F.R. 225.33.
Inform Your Health Care Providers
Make sure your doctors know the following:
- As a railroad employee, your injury is covered by the Federal Employers' Liability Act ("FELA") and not by State Workers' Compensation Laws.
- Tell your doctor not to consult or discuss your medical care with any railroad official without your express written authorization.
- Tell your doctor that your railroad employer is not permitted to influence, delay or deny the medical treatment for your work related injury.
- Tell your doctor that his charges for treating your work related injury will be paid by your Union negotiated health care plan. Your doctor does not need any authorization from your railroad employer for any treatment he deems to be medically necessary to treat your injuries.
- If your doctor requires additional information with regard to these issues it can be attained from my office as Union Designated Legal Counsel - P. Matthew Darby at 800-248-3352.
If you believe your rights have been violated, contact Union Designated Legal Counsel - P. Matthew Darby at 800-248-3352 for a free consultation.