Thursday, July 12, 2012

Third Stop, Loco-Motive Termination

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) ordered Norfolk Southern Railway Co. to pay $802,168.70 in damages to three ex-employees. During three concurrent investigations, OSHA suspected Norfolk had been terminating employees for reporting workplace injuries. Three ex-employees alleged the same sequence of events: employee was injured while at work, reported the injury to a supervisor, and soon after lost their job. This type of employer conduct is prohibited under the whistleblower protection provisions of the Federal Railway Safety Act ("Act"). Generally the provisions protect employees from retaliation for reporting workplace injuries. It is important for employees to notify their employers of workplace injuries in order for an employer to prevent similar incidents. Norfolk denied the allegations stating the employees had falsified their injuries or were terminated for incompetence. However, OSHA determined that Norfolk had retaliated against the three ex-employees and ordered the company to pay damages for doing so. The Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels stated, “[t]o prevent more injuries, railroad workers must be able to report an injury without fear of retaliation. The Labor Department will continue to protect all employees, including those in the railroad industry, from retaliation for exercising these basic worker rights. Employers found in violation will be held accountable." To read more about the investigation click here.

OSHA is an agency within the Department of Labor. The agency was created to set and enforce workplace safety regulations. For more information about OSHA visit its website by clicking here.

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