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Recent Whistleblower Decisions

The following are significant decisions that were recently issued by the U.S. Department of Labor pursuant to the Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA), 49 U.S.C. §20109.

  1. On August 22, 2011, the Department of Labor issued an Order directing the Union Pacific Railroad Company to pay back wages in the amount of $3,437.10, punitive damages in the amount of $150,000.00 and compensatory damages for pain and suffering in the amount of $10,000.00 to a railroader who alleged and proved that he was pulled out of service, charged with rule violations and permanently dismissed from service in retaliation for reporting safety concerns on the Railroad’s safety hotline. The Railroad was also ordered to reinstate the railroader to his former position with all the pay, benefits, and rights he had before his discharge.

  2. On August 15, 2011, the Department of Labor directed the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Company to pay compensatory damages in the amount of $125,000.00 and punitive damages in the $150,000.00 to a railroader who alleged and proved that she had been suspended for 30 days without pay in retaliation for notifying the Railroad of a work-related personal injury. She also alleged and proved that the Railroad brought charges against her in a disciplinary proceeding in retaliation for requesting medical and/or first aid treatment and for following the orders and the treatment plan of her treating physician.

  3. On August 8, 2011, the Department of Labor issued an Order directing Norfolk Southern Railway Company to pay compensatory damages in the amount of $20,750.11 and punitive damages in the amount of $75,000.00 to a railroader who alleged and proved that he had been suspended in retaliation for reporting a workplace injury.

  4. On August 5, 2011, the Department of Labor directed the Metro-North Commuter Railroad Company to pay compensatory damages in the amount of $5,000.00 and punitive damages in the amount of $125,000.00 to a railroader who alleged and proved that he suffered retaliation when he reported a workplace injury. The Railroad was also ordered to pay the railroader back pay and promote him to the position of Locomotive Engineer.

By Matt Darby

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