Railroad company retaliated against workers who reported injuries
OSHA: Canadian National Railway a repeat offender
A train conductor who was fired for reporting his injury at the end of his shift – instead of at the moment it occurred – will be reinstated and will receive back wages damages, under an OSHA order to his employer. Another employee who was suspended for a similar reason will receive damages as well.
An OSHA investigation found that two subsidiaries of Canadian National Railway, for Illinois Central Railroad Co. and Wisconsin Central Ltd., disciplined the employees for reporting work-related injuries, which is a violation of the Federal Railroad Safety Act.
Reported injury at end of shift
Investigators upheld the allegations of a Wisconsin Central Ltd. conductor, who was terminated from employment in retaliation for reporting his work-related injury. The employee was hired as a conductor trainee in October 2011 and was injured the following month while working a night shift at the Fond du Lac, Wis., rail yard. He reported the injury at the end of his shift. Upon being cleared to return to work, the employee was terminated by Wisconsin Central for not formerly reporting his injury immediately after it occurred.
Wisconsin Central Ltd. was ordered to reinstate the conductor, pay $85,170 in lost wages and interest, and $100,000 in punitive damages. The company must also remove disciplinary information from the employee's personnel record and provide whistle-blower rights information to its employees.
Lower back strain
Allegations by an Illinois Central Railroad Co. engineer were also upheld. He was disciplined with a 20-day deferred suspension after reporting an injury that occurred in the company's Urbana Yard in March 2011. The engineer strained his lower back while securing a hand brake on a locomotive. He reported the injury to his supervisor three hours later, after his back began to stiffen while waiting for clearance to complete his next movement in the yard. The company's investigation alleged the engineer violated policy by delaying the injury report.
Illinois Central Railroad Co. has been ordered to pay the worker $100,000 in punitive damages, as well as $5,000 in compensatory damages. The company must also remove disciplinary information from the employee's personnel record and provide whistle-blower rights information to its employees.
The punitive damages for each case were $100,000 because both subsidiaries were repeat offenders for violating the FRSA.
Canadian National Railway is headquartered in Montreal and provides rail service throughout Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota and Canada.