Railroad Company Ordered to Compensate Employee for Retaliating after Reported Work Injury

After the employee followed the company's injury report policy, he was wrong accused of falsifying the injury report.

OSHA has ordered Norfolk Southern Railway Co. to pay more than $288,000 in fines for violating whistleblower protection provisions, outlined in the Federal Railroad Safety Act.

According to OSHA, "investigations have found that the company continues to retaliate against workers for reporting work-related injuries, effectively created a chilling effect within the railroad industry."

Thus, Norfolk must pay back wages, interest, mental and punitive damage, and attorney's fees to an employee who reported a work-related injury.

In September 2009, the employee had to use excessive force to move a switch while on the job. Two days later, on his day off, the employee felt a pain in his back, which he immediately reported to his supervisor. After a company hearing, the employee was terminated for allegedly falsifying an injury. The railroad pressured the worker to sign a leniency waiver in March 2010. He returned to work a few months later.

However, after an OSHA investigation, the employee was cleared of these charges. OSHA found his employer to be retaliating against him for reporting the injury.

"Railroad workers continue to be harassed, intimidated and even terminated for reporting workplace injuries," said Cindy A. Coe, OSHA's regional administrator in Atlanta, in a statement on the agency's website. "The Department of Labor will continue to protect all railroad employees from these retaliatory acts and will hold employers accountable for their illegal actions."

Norfolk transports coal and other commodities.

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