In 2007, the Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA), 49 U.S.C. §20109, was amended so there was a shift of authority for railroad worker whistleblower protections from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Also, the amended code included new rights, remedies and procedures in regards to the whistleblower protections.
In 2008, the Rail Safety Improvement Act again amended FRSA to explicitly prohibit disciplinary actions or threats of disciplinary actions of employees for requesting medical treatment or for following medical treatment orders, first-aid treatment, or for following orders or treatment plan of a treating physician.
The employer is in violation of the FRSA if they take adverse actions against an employee for filing an accident report or unsafe condition. These adverse actions include the following types of practices: firing; laying off; blacklisting; demoting; denying overtime; denying promotion; disciplining; denying benefits; failing to hire or rehire; intimidation; making threats; reassignment affecting promotion; reducing pay; reducing hours; discipline an employee for requesting medical or first-aid treatment; discipline an employee for following orders or treatment plan of a treating physician or forcing an employee to work against medical advice.
Once an employee experiences an adverse action they must file their complaint with the nearest OSHA regional office. Regional offices include, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Kansas City, Denver, San Francisco and Seattle. This complaint must be filed within 180 days of the alleged adverse action in order to comply with the whistleblower protection regulations.
If OSHA deems the employee has made a successful claim, a preliminary order may be made by OSHA in order to make the employee whole. This preliminary order may include: reinstatement of the employee (with the same seniority and benefits); payments of back pay (including interest); compensatory damages (including compensation for special damages, expert witness fees and reasonable attorney’s fees) and punitive damages (of up to $250,000), 49 U.S.C. §20109 (e).
Naumes Law Attorneys have handled Whistleblower cases against all major East Coast Railroads. Call 844-826-8445 for a free consultation.