The agency’s investigation upheld allegations that the company retaliated against the worker for taking leave in line with a treatment plan ordered by a doctor. BNSF Railway Company has been ordered to pay the conductor $12,000 in damages, remove disciplinary information from the employee's personnel record and provide whistleblower rights information to all its employees.
"Workers should never be forced to choose between staying healthy or facing disciplinary action," said Marcia P. Drumm, OSHA's acting regional administrator in Kansas City.
The employee was ill and saw a doctor on Dec. 16, 2013. Following the appointment, the conductor immediately notified a supervisor that the doctor had ordered him to stay out of work for the remainder of the day. The note also covered illness suffered during the weekend, which was part of the employee's scheduled time off. The employee was subsequently disciplined for violating the company's attendance policy.
OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of the FRSA and 21 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of various airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health care reform, nuclear, pipeline, worker safety, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime and securities laws.