Hear that whistle blowing? Railroad fined for firing whistleblower
OSHA has ordered Omaha, Neb.-based Union Pacific Railroad Co. to immediately reinstate an employee in Idaho who was terminated after reporting a work-related injury. OSHA also has ordered the company to pay the employee more than $300,000 in back wages, compensatory damages, attorney's fees and punitive damages.
The employee filed a whistleblower complaint with OSHA, alleging suspension without pay and then termination 23 days after notifying the company of an on-the-job injury. OSHA's investigation found reasonable cause to believe that the disciplinary charges and termination were not based on the complainant breaking a work rule but on the complainant reporting an injury to the railroad, in violation of the Federal Railroad Safety Act's whistleblower protection provisions. Union Pacific Railroad Co. was found to have similarly violated the FRSA in four other cases elsewhere in the U.S. since 2009.
Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels said the agency will not tolerate retaliation against workers for reporting a work-related injury.
In addition to reinstatement and monetary compensation, OSHA has ordered the railroad to refrain from retaliating against the employee for exercising rights guaranteed under the FRSA.