Gaithersburg: 301-670-7030
Baltimore: 410-769-5400
Frederick: 301-668-2100
Contact Us For Legal Help

Railroad Injury Blog

New Tool in the Federal Rail Safety Act Tool Belt

Monday, January 16, 2017

You won't believe how the Labor Department has helped railroaders.  Railroaders just got a new tool in their tool belt from the U.S. Department of Labor. A federal court tried to limit the types of injuries and illnesses protected by the Federal Rail Safety Act (“FRSA”), and excluded off-duty injuries and illnesses. The Labor Department decided not to listen and said that even off-duty injuries and illnesses are protected. This will be a great new tool for protecting employees from railroad retaliation.

The FRSA clearly protects employees who tell the railroad about their own (or a co-worker’s) on-duty injury or illness. It also clearly protects employees who follow their doctor’s orders related to an on-duty injury or illness. This can include doctor’s orders to take certain medications or to take time off work. Once an employee tells the railroad about their injury or the doctor’s orders, the railroad cannot punish the employee by suspending them, terminating them, or discriminating against them in any way.

In January 2015, the federal appeals court for the Third Circuit (which covers Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania) said that the FRSA does not protect employees for following doctor’s orders if the injury or illness occurred off-duty. The court said that only doctors’ orders that are triggered by on-duty injuries or illnesses are covered by the FRSA.

Thankfully, the Labor Department is still on the side of railroad workers. The Labor Department decides FRSA cases before they ever get to court, and it says that even a doctor’s orders for off-duty injuries or illnesses are covered.

The Labor Department said this in a case called Williams v. Grand Trunk Western Railroad Company. In the Williams case, a locomotive engineer was fired for absenteeism after his doctor told him to stay off work. The engineer suffered from anxiety and depression and was prescribed medication that precluded him from working. He told the railroad about his illness and his doctor’s orders, but they fired him anyway. The engineer’s doctor testified that if he worked it would be a “recipe for disaster” to other employees and the general public.

The Labor Department agreed, and said that a railroad cannot punish you for following your doctor’s orders, even if the injury or illness occurred off-duty and is not work-related. This way, you are not forced to choose between working while impaired and risking your job.

The final word on this issue may ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court. Certainly, under the Trump Administration, there will be pressure placed on the Labor Department to reverse its position – but for now we have a good tool to protect employees from the often vindictive railroads.

If you should have any questions regarding a potential whistleblower case, please do not hesitate to contact our office for a consultation. Please visit our website at BermanAndDarby.com and download our railroad worker smart phone app.You can also reach us at 800-248-FELA.

Recent Posts


Tags


Archive

RSS

What Our Clients Say

Known for our unwavering commitment to clients, for our integrity, and for delivering the best results, our clients continue to refer their friends, families and neighbors to us for their legal needs.


"One year ago today I made the call to your office. The best decision I could make. I wanted to share with you how impressed I am with your staff and your professionalism."

Heather P.


"Craig did a great job representing me! He's the lawyer I have trusted with my legal needs because he's professional, knowledgeable, and keeps me informed about my case."

Jaclyn K.


"I would like to express my gratitude for your efforts and dedication for my disability case. It's has been quite a long and upsetting process but you have handled my case in an extremely competent and responsible manner."

Leo H.


"I have recommended Mr. Feldman to several of my friends and colleagues and have heard nothing but excellent reviews. He is the best lawyer I have ever used."

Martin


"I received the check today. I could not believe it until I saw the check. Thank you so much. You have improved my family's quality of life tenfold."

Mike F.


"These guys go above and beyond! They always have your best interest in mind."

Mike W.


"You have been kind throughout this process and I appreciate your professionalism as well as your gentle concern. Thanks for helping us and all the others who need your legal expertise. We are grateful."

Nancy F.


"Thanks to Mr. Shultz's aggressive and professional work ethic style I was able to receive the medical services and compensation pertaining to my case."

Navdeep C.


"I can honestly say this firm is simply TOP NOTCH! They not only have handled countless cases for my members that require their services, they also have gone well beyond their "scope" to help some of my folks in other areas of need. "

Rick H.


"The attention and professional care the staff has taken toward my needs has always been excellent. I have no complaints nor worries that my issues discussed are not addressed."

Tim T.


"I just got off the phone with Craig and let him know how thankful we are to you, him and Ken for all your efforts – you are all really terrific to work with!"

Val K.


Locations Throughout Maryland, Virginia & Washington DC

Gaithersburg Office

481 N. Frederick Avenue, Suite 300
Gaithersburg, MD 20877
301-670-7030 / 800-248-3352
Fax: 301-670-9492

Lutherville Office

1301 York Road, Suite 600
Lutherville, MD 21093
410-769-5400 / 800-248-3352
Fax: 410-769-9200

Frederick Office

30 W. Patrick Street, Suite 105
Frederick, MD 21701
301-668-2100 / 800-827-2667
Fax: 301-668-2000

Subscribe To Our Newsletter


TOP