OSHA News Release - Table of Contents|
Norfolk Southern Railway Co. ordered by US Labor Department's OSHA to
pay more than $122,000 for violating Federal Railroad Safety Act
Whistleblower to receive compensatory and punitive damages, attorney's fees
GREENSBORO, N.C. – Norfolk Southern Railway Co. has been ordered by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration to pay a former employee $122,199 in compensatory and punitive damages as well as reasonable attorney's fees. The company violated the employee's rights under the whistleblower provisions of the Federal Railroad Safety Act by terminating the employee for reporting an on-the-job injury in 2009.
On May 13, 2009, the employee was initially injured in Jamestown, N.C., while removing a spike from the rail line. Fearing loss of employment, the worker did not report the injury until a re-injury occurred in October when, at the suggestion of management, the employee saw a doctor. After returning to work, the employee was suspended and later terminated for allegedly falsifying the injury. The employee submitted a complaint to OSHA and the agency's investigation determined that not only were the employee's rights under the FRSA violated, the company also successfully intimidated other employees from reporting on-the-job injuries. This "chilling effect" allowed Norfolk Southern to maintain the appearance of an exemplary safety record and continue its 22-consecutive-year record as recipient of the E.H.Harriman Gold Medal Rail Safety Award.
"Every American worker has the right to report an injury without fear of retaliation or intimidation," said Cindy A. Co