Norfolk Southern Railway, a railroad operator based in Norfolk, Virginia, has been ordered by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to pay $802,168.70 to settle allegations that it violated the whistleblower provision of the Federal Railroad Safety Act when it terminated three employees who reported work injuries.
According to OSHA, this lawsuit, in part, stems from ongoing investigations into allegations that Norfolk Southern retaliates against employees who report work-related injuries. This settlement addresses three concurrent investigations involving a laborer in Greenville, South Carolina, an engineer in Louisville, Kentucky, and a railroad conductor in Harrison, Pennsylvania. In these three cases, the individuals that reported the injuries to OSHA had themselves been injured on the job. OSHA’s investigations found that Norfolk Southern either began treating the injured employees less favorably or they alleged that the employees had falsified their work-related injuries.
In addition to paying over $800,000, Norfolk Southern has been ordered to remove all disciplinary records from the whistleblowers files, post a notice regarding employees’ whistleblower rights and provide employees with proper training regarding these rights.
Assistant Secretary of Labor Dr. David Michaels stated:
“Firing workers for reporting an injury is not only illegal, it also endangered all workers. When workers are discouraged from reporting injuries, no investigation into the cause of the injury can occur… To 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.”
The Employment Law Group® law firm has an extensive nationwide whistleblower practice representing employees who have been victims of retaliation.