Omaha, Nebraska-based Union Pacific Railroad Co. has agreed to pay an employee $38,561.92 in punitive damages for violating the whistleblower provision for the Federal Railroad Safety Act when it retaliated against an employee who reported a work-related injury.
An investigation conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) found that after two coupled cars came apart on July 8, 2011, the employee, a switchman in Union Pacific’s Topeka, Kansas yard, suffered the loss of two teeth and several facial lacerations when he was struck by cars being moved. After the employee reported the injury, the railroad company issued him with a ten day unpaid suspension, even though evidence showed that the employee was not at fault. Employees that had not reported injuries either were not disciplined or received lesser penalties.
In addition to paying the $38,561.92 settlement, Union Pacific must remove disciplinary references from the employee’s personnel record and post a notice throughout the Kansas City Service Unit informing employees of their whistleblower rights.
The Employment Law Group® law firm has an extensive nationwide whistleblower practice representing employees who have been victims of retaliation.