Norfolk Southern Railway Co. has been ordered by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to pay $802,168 after being found to have terminated multiple employees for reporting workplace injuries. At least three workers were fired for their reporting, a violation of the whistleblower protection provisions of the Federal Railroad Safety Act. The violations occurred in Greenville, South Carolina; Nashville, Tennessee; and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
In the past year, OSHA has found that Norfolk Southern routinely exhibits workplace discrimination, regularly retaliating against employees for reporting workplace injuries. Of the over $800,000 in damages, $525,000 is in punitive damages and attorneys’ fees. Punitive damages are sometimes assessed in order to dissuade an entity from carrying out a similar course of action again. In addition to the monetary aspect, Norfolk Southern has also been ordered by the OSHA to expunge the disciplinary records of the whistleblowers, post workplace notices regarding railroad employees’ whistleblower protection rights, and provide training to its employees about these rights.
Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels said of the findings: “Firing workers for reporting an injury is not only illegal, it also endangers all workers. When workers are discouraged from reporting injuries, no investigation into the cause of an injury can occur. To prevent more injuries, railroad workers must be able to report an injury without fear of retaliation. The Labor Department will continue to protect all employees, including those in the railroad industry, from retaliation for exercising these basic worker rights. Employers found in violation will be held accountable.”
Have you been subject to discrimination for reporting unsafe working conditions, or for reporting a workplace injury? If so, your employer may be violating multiple labor laws that prevent employees from being discriminated against for such reporting. When a worker is injured on the job, he or she may be entitled to worker’s compensation for their injuries. This culture of retaliation by Norfolk Southern and other employers discourages workers from filing claims and prevents them from receiving deserved compensation. If your employer is illegally discriminating against you for whatever reason, learn about your legal rights by filling out our free case review form on the right.