The Federal Rail Safety Act, 49 U.S.C. §20109, was amended on August 3, 2007 to include rail carrier employee whistle blower protection in OSHA. This means that railroad employees have new rights and remedies under OSHA. Railroad employees covered under the FRSA applies to most railroad employees and it means these employees are protected from retaliation when they report certain safety and security violations.
This means a railroad employee who is covered under FRSA, and most rail employees working for major rail carriers would be covered, may not be discharged or in any other manner retaliated against when the employee provides information to, causes information to be provided to, assists an investigation by a federal regulatory or law enforcement agency, or a member or committee of Congress, about an alleged violation of federal laws and regulations related to railroad safety and security. This means an employer may not discharge or in any manner retaliate against an employee because that employee filed, caused to be filed, participated in, or assisted in a proceeding under one of these laws or regulations. The employees covered under FRSA are also protected from retaliation for reporting hazardous, safety or security conditions, refusing to work under certain conditions, or refusing to authorize the use of any safety, or security-related equipment, track or structures.
The employee who has been retaliated against must file a complaint within 180 days after the unfavorable action has taken place. An employee or a representative of the employee may file a complaint with OSHA. The FRSA prohibits an employee filing a complaint from also filing multiple discrimination complaints under other laws for the same unlawful act alleged against the employer. You can go to the OSHA website, www.OSHA.gov, or your local telephone directory to obtain contact information. This complaint is best filed by certified mail, fax, or hand delivered during business hours.
This rule has been applied to employees who have been fired, transferred, or lost wages and benefits in instances when such actions come about through retaliation of the railroad employer. Other damages may include payment of back pay with interest, compensation for expert witness fees, attorney’s fees, and other special damages, reinstatement with the same seniority and benefits, and punitive damages not to exceed $250,000.00 in some cases.
If you have been the victim of retaliatory firing, or actions taken against you because of reporting safety issues, you can read more about this at www.OSHA.gov and go to the whistle blower protection link. You may also call the Wilson & Hajek Law Firm and we will discuss with you whether or not we think you have a claim at no charge. If you do have a claim, we can assist you in reporting and pursuing your claim.
Railroad workers can collect for injuries.
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