Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, internet games and cell phones are effective means of communication and entertainment in today’s high-tech world. However, these electronic mediums and devices can be a means to voluntarily give up your right to privacy, put yourself under surveillance and result in your dismissal from service with the railroad.
Can the use of these mediums and devices affect your employment with the railroad and your FELA claim?
Let’s say you work in a transportation department and use your cell phone or other electronic communication device while performing your work. Use of your personal communication device while working is both a carrier rule violation and a violation of federal law. Either violation can end your employment with the railroad.
Or, you go on Facebook and post unflattering remarks regarding your place of employment or railroad management. Or, perhaps you post information that the railroad considers to be privileged. Or, you post a comment like, “This railroad is a horrible place to work for. They break federal laws all the time.” Such postings could result in you being charged with “conduct unbecoming a railroad employee” or “divulging company information.” Either charge can end your employment with the railroad.
Additionally, it has been brought to my attention that railroad supervisors at various locations have asked railroad workers “to be friends” on Facebook. If you have an incident on the railroad (a work injury, collision, or any alleged rule violation), and a letter of charges is issued, railroad supervisors, your Facebook friends, will comb these mediums to find times, facts, pictures, and postings that conflict with your statements or reports. Moreover, providing conflicting statements or reports can end your employment with the railroad.
Previous Straight Track articles have discussed the importance of developing the correct facts and information surrounding an on-the-job injury before giving a statement or completing an injury report. Did you realize that providing conflicting statements or reports relating to a work injury may reduce the monetary value of your FELA claim? If you are injured at work, it’s o.k. to take an assertive posture with the railroad. To tell the railroad’s claim agent, “I’m not going to sign anything,” or “I’m not giving any statement,” can protect your case. However, what’s not a good move is posting your opinions relating to your work injury on the internet or in emails. Your postings can come back to haunt you.
High-tech mediums and devices are creating new issues for railroaders. If managed correctly, these mediums and devices can be effective forms of entertainment and communication. Hoey & Farina, through the internet / email, uses Straight Track as an effective means of communication. We work hard to stay on top of these new issues and keep railroaders informed and in control. Hoey & Farina would like to hear from you if you have any questions, comments or stories of your own regarding these types of issues. Please feel free to contact Hoey & Farina at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-888-425-1212.