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OSHA orders Utah Transit Authority to pay more than $130,000 to former worker in whistleblower case (8/27)

OSHA has ordered the Utah Transit Authority, headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, to immediately reinstate a wrongfully discharged employee to his former position and pay more than $130,000 in back wages with interest, compensatory damages and attorney's fees, an agency press release said. OSHA's recently completed investigation determined that the Utah Transit Authority discharged the worker in violation of the whistleblower provision of the Federal Railroad Safety Act.

The complaint filed with OSHA alleged that the Utah Transit Authority, which provides mass transportation to the public through bus, light rail, van pool and commuter rail services, had discharged the worker in retaliation for raising security concerns. Those concerns centered around the transit authority's issuance of keys to access the railroad's controls and switches for signals and tracks. FRSA protects employees of a railroad carrier and its contractors and subcontractors against retaliation for reporting certain safety and security violations. Employees are also protected for cooperating with investigations by OSHA and other regulatory agencies, and reporting on-the-job injuries. OSHA's investigation found reasonable cause to believe that the employee was discharged in retaliation for engaging in activities protected by the act.

In addition to monetary relief, OSHA ordered the Utah Transit Authority to display information in the workplace regarding whistleblower rights afforded to employees under the FRSA. Either party to the case can appeal the Secretary's Findings and Order within 30 days of receipt to the Labor Department's Office of Administrative Law Judges.

OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and 18 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of various trucking, airline, nuclear power, pipeline, environmental, rail, public transportation, health care, securities and financial reform laws. Detailed information about employee whistleblower rights, including fact sheets, is available online at http://www.whistleblowers.gov.

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