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Region 8 News Release: 14-807-DEN
April 23, 2014
Contact: Diana Petterson      Juan Rodriguez
Phone: 972-850-4710      972-850-4709
Email: petterson.diana@dol.gov      rodriguez.juan@dol.gov

Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway ordered by US Department of Labor's
OSHA to pay more than $526,000 to terminated workers
Employer violated anti-retaliation protection provided to workers who report injuries

DENVER – Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway has been ordered to pay more than $526,000 in back wages and other damages to two workers following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA found that the company, based in Fort Worth, Texas, was in violation of the whistleblower provisions of the Federal Railroad Safety Act* for terminating the employees in 2010 and 2011 for reporting a workplace injury that occurred at the company's Havre, Mont., terminal.

"An employer cannot retaliate against employees who report an injury," said Gregory Baxter, OSHA's regional administrator in Denver. "OSHA recognizes that employers can legitimately have, and apply, policies to require prompt injury reporting; however, that is not what happened here. When employers mask their retaliatory intent through application of a policy or rule, they violate the law."

The former employees submitted complaints to OSHA alleging violations of the anti-retaliation provisions of the FRSA. Because of these complaints, OSHA conducted an investigation and determined that the reporting of the work-related injury was a factor in each former employee's termination, which is a direct violation of the FRSA. Burlington Northern has been ordered to pay back wages with interest, compensatory damages and attorney's fees, while reinstating and expunging the two employees' work records