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Region 7 News Release: 12-1479-CHI
July 25, 2012
Contact: Scott Allen     Rhonda Burke
Phone:       312-353-6976
Email: allen.scott@dol.gov     burke.rhonda@dol.gov

US Labor Department orders Union Pacific Railroad to pay more than $38,000
to employee in Topeka, Kan., following whistleblower investigation

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has ordered Omaha, Neb.-headquartered Union Pacific Railroad Co. to pay an employee $38,561.92 in damages, which includes $25,000 in punitive damages, after retaliating against the employee for reporting a work-related injury.

An investigation by OSHA upheld the employee's allegation that the railroad issued a 10-day unpaid suspension in retaliation for reporting an injury that occurred on July 8, 2011, while he was working as a switchman in the railroad's Topeka, Kan., yard. The worker suffered the loss of two teeth and several facial lacerations when coupled cars came apart as they were being moved in the yard and struck him. The railroad issued the discipline even though the evidence showed that the employee was not at fault, and that employees involved in similar incidents but who had not been injured received lesser forms of discipline or were allowed to bypass the formal discipline process entirely.

The railroad carrier also has been ordered to remove references to discipline from the employee's personnel record and to post employee whistleblower rights information throughout its Kansas City Service Unit. The respondent and the complainant both have 30 days from receipt of these findings to file objections and to request a hearing before a Labor Department administrative law judge.

"An employer does not have the right to retaliate against employees who