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OSHA ORDERS NEW JERSEY TRANSIT TO PAY RAILROADER $570,000.00
WHISTLEBLOWER LAW ENFORCED AGAINST NEW JERSEY TRANSIT
Written By: James L. Farina
On August 3, 2007, Congress passed the Federal Rail Safety Act as amended, a powerful law to protect railroaders who report violations of federal safety regulations and on duty injury claims from retaliation. Hoey & Farina provided an extensive 13 part Straight Track analysis of the FRSA and continues to follow all legal developments in our representation of railroaders. The following decision is from OSHA's Whistleblower Office where OSHA determined that the New Jersey Transit violated the FRSA by disciplining a railroader in retaliation for reporting a work injury.
I want to congratulate Charles C. Goetsch, Esq., the attorney from New Haven, Connecticut, who represented the injured railroader in this FRSA - Whistleblower retaliation case. Moreover, I want to share with you, that Charles Goetsch, Steve Garmisa and I are working together, with others, concerning the election of remedies issue under the FRSA. Our meeting with the Department of Labor ("DOL") in Washington, D.C. in September 2009 has born fruit in that the DOL has been given leave to file an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief in the appeal of our case, Koger v. Norfolk Southern Railroad.
If the railroad retaliates against you for filing an on-duty injury claim under the FELA (Federal Employers' Liability Act), you may have a remedy under the Federal Rail Safety Act. Contact Hoey & Farina at 1-888-425-1212 for your free consultation concerning your possible FELA / FRSA Whistleblower's claim.
OSHA News Release: [04/07/2010]
Contact Name: Ted Fitzgerald
Phone Number: (617) 565-2074
Release Number: 10-0160-NEW
US Labor Department’s OSHA orders New Jersey Transit to pay more than $500,000 to worker for violation of railroad whistleblower law
NEWARK, N.J. — A whistleblower investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration found that New Jersey Transit violated the Federal Railroad Safety Act when it retaliated against an employee for reporting a work-related illness.
According to OSHA's findings, in February 2008, the railroad brought an employee up on charges for missing work after suffering a work-related illness from witnessing a fatal accident involving another worker. The railroad also retaliated against the worker by cutting his pay and then suspending him. These retaliatory acts caused the employee significant financial and personal losses. The employee filed a whistleblower complaint with OSHA, alleging that the railroad had retaliated against him for reporting his work-related illness. OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Program conducted an investigation under the whistleblower provisions of the FRSA, found merit to the complaint and ordered relief.
"Railroad employees have the legal right to report work-related injuries and illnesses without fear of retaliation," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels. "This case sends a clear message: Railroads that retaliate against employees for exercising their rights will be held accountable."
As a result of its findings, OSHA has ordered New Jersey Transit to take corrective actions, including expunging disciplinary actions taken against the employee and references to them from various records as well as compensating the worker for back pay, lost benefit payments, interest, compensatory damages and attorneys' fees totaling almost $500,000. In addition, OSHA has ordered the railroad to pay the complainant $75,000 in punitive damages. The railroad must also post and provide its employees with information on their FRSA whistleblower rights.
New Jersey Transit and the complainant have 30 days from receipt of the findings to file an appeal with the Labor Department's Office of Administrative Law Judges. Under the FRSA, employees of a railroad carrier and its contractors and subcontractors are protected against retaliation for reporting on-the-job injuries and illnesses, as well as reporting certain safety and security violations and cooperating with investigations by OSHA and other regulatory agencies.
OSHA enforces the whistleblower protection provisions of the FRSA and 16 other whistleblower statutes protecting employees who report violations of various workplace safety, securities, trucking, airline, nuclear power, pipeline, environmental, public transportation and consumer product safety laws. Detailed information is available online at http://www.osha.gov/dep/oia/whistleblower/index.html.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to assure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.
Note: The Labor Department does not release names of employees involved in whistleblower complaints.
If you or a loved one have suffered a serious injury or wrongful death at work on the railroad, or been retaliated against at work for being a Whistleblower, call an experienced FELA personal injury lawyer / train accident lawyer at Hoey & Farina at 1-888-425-1212, or complete this form, for your FREE CONSULTATION. Hoey & Farina represents clients throughout the United States.
- Part I - Congress Stands Up For Railroad Whistleblowers
- Part II - Basic Questions And Answers About Whistleblower Protection Laws
- Part III - Protection for Refusing to Violate Safety Laws
- Part IV - Procedures & Remedies For Protecting Your Whistleblower Rights
- Part V - Supreme Court Decision May Extend Reach of Anti-Retaliation Law
- Part VI - Procedures for Filing Whistleblower Retaliation Claim
- Part VII - OSHA Investigation of Claim
- Part VIII - Sample OSHA Complaint
- Part IX - New Federal Law Protects Local Remedies
- Part X - Government Report Slams Railroad Misconduct
- Part XI - Sorting Out "Election of Remedies"
- Part XII - Court Clarifies Requirements For Proving A Retaliation Claim
- Part XIII - Railroad Leaves "Fingerprints" of Retaliation by "Hounding" Employee