The railroads are still in the business of managing by fear and intimidation.
Throughout their careers, railroaders have seen fellow employees report a railroad work injury, only to be brought up for investigation and fired for a ‘rule violation’ or other trumped up charge. Or, after a completing a personal injury report for an on-duty injury, seen the railroad harass an injured railroader once he returns to work, by putting him on a watch list, following him, sometimes even recording his every move in the train yard – looking for a reason to fire the worker.
If a railroad fires, denies promotion, puts on a list or harasses an injured railroad worker for reporting an on-duty injury, it may be a whistleblower violation under Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA), 49 U.S.C. Section 20109. Specifically, Section 20109 (a)(4) states:
“(a) IN GENERAL. –
A railroad carrier engaged in interstate or foreign commerce, a contractor or a subcontractor of such a railroad carrier, or an officer or employee of such a railroad carrier, may not discharge, demote, suspend, reprimand, or in any other way discriminate against an employee if such discrimination is due, in whole or in part, to the employee’s lawful, good faith act done, or perceived by the employer to have been done or about to be done -
(4) to notify, or attempt to notify, the railroad carrier or the Secretary of Transportation of a work-related personal injury or work-related illness of an employee;...”
Given the protections available, unfortunately, many railroaders are still afraid or reluctant to report their work injuries.
When you fail to file or file a late personal injury report:
You may be in violation of a work rule and be subject to discipline.
You may reduce or eliminate your chances of financial recovery for your FELA claim because the railroad can take the position that your injury happened elsewhere and was not in fact a work injury.
The railroad will continue its course of harassment and intimidation.
- The railroad will have one less reportable injury and inaccurately appears to have a better safety record than it actually does.
When you report your personal injury, you are protecting your legal rights under the Federal Employer’s Liability Act (FELA). More importantly, you have documented your railroad work injury and have started a paper trail. Your actions will also fortify the rights of all future injured railroad workers. The more railroaders who report their work injuries and fight back against the railroads’ practices of harassment and intimidation, the more positive changes which can be brought about in the rail industry.
Positive changes continue to happen! Click on the following links to see where the tide has turned when it comes to railroads’ treatment of injured workers:
Norfolk Southern Railway Co. ordered by US Labor Department's OSHA to pay more than $932,000 after illegally terminating 2 injured workers Investigations found violations of Federal Railroad Safety Act whistleblower provisions.
Norfolk Southern Railway Co. ordered by US Labor Department to pay more than $300,000 for violating Federal Railroad Safety Act Tennessee whistleblower to receive compensatory and punitive damages, attorney's fees.
If you are ever injured at work on the railroad:
- Report Injury to Your Immediate Supervisor
- Seek Necessary Medical Attention
- Call HOEY & FARINA at 888-425-1212