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Rail carrier ordered to rescind discipline and pay worker $5,000 in punitive damages (5/20)

May 20, 2010
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An OSHA whistleblower investigation has found that CSX Transportation Inc. retaliated against a veteran employee in its Selkirk, N.Y., dispatch office who repeatedly reported safety concerns to his managers, the Federal Railroad Administration and OSHA, according to an OSHA press release.

"Retaliating against an employee who raises safety concerns is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York. "If workers are intimidated into remaining silent, that silence carries an ominous price as hazards may go unreported and thereby place the safety of railway workers and the public at risk."

The worker filed a complaint with OSHA in early 2009 after CSX disciplined him in December 2008. OSHA's investigation found merit to the complaint. As a result, OSHA has ordered the railroad to rescind disciplinary action against the worker and pay him $5,000 in punitive damages.

The order also requires CSX to expunge the worker's personnel record of any derogatory reference to his exercising his rights under the Federal Railroad Safety Act, permanently post a notice of employee whistleblower rights where CSX employees will see them, and provide those employees with a fact sheet and other information about their whistleblower rights under the FRSA.

CSX and the complainant have 30 days from receipt of the findings to file an appeal with the Labor Department's Office of Administrative Law Judges. Under the FRSA, employees of a railroad carrier and its contractors and subcontractors are protected against retaliation for reporting on-the-job injuries as well as reporting certain safety and security violations and cooperating with investigations by OSHA and other regulatory agencies.

OSHA also enforces statutes protecting employees who report violations of various securities, trucking, airline, nuclear power, pipeline, environmental, public transportation and consumer product safety laws. Detailed information is available online at: http://www.osha.gov/dep/oia/whistleblower/index.html.

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