Federal Court Orders Railway to Pay $696,173 in Whistleblower Case

After the US Department of Labor found out a railway retaliated against a whistleblower, the Colorado US District Court has cited the railway to pay thousands.

An OSHA news release from February 5, 2020 reports that the US District Court for the District of Colorado has ordered Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Company (BNSF) to pay $696,173 in lost back and future wages to a former employee who reported track defects. The total paid to the whistleblower was more than $1.74 million.

Previously, OSHA determined the employer violated the whistleblower protection provisions of the Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA) by retaliating against the former employee in Denver, Colorado.

On February 19, 2019, a jury in the US District Court for the District of Colorado ordered BNSF to pay the employee $800,000 in emotional distress, and an additional $250,000 in punitive damages.

“Railroad employers and owners must comply with the Federal Railway Safety Act, enacted to protect railroad workers who report hazardous safety or security conditions,” said OSHA Acting Regional Administrator Rita Lucero, in Denver, Colorado.

OSHA protects whistleblowers in a number of situations. Actually, OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program enforces the whistleblower provisions of more than 20 whistleblower statues. These statues are in place to protect employees from retaliation for reporting violations of various workplace safety and health, airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health insurance reform, motor vehicle safety, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime and securities laws; and for engaging in other related protected activities.

For more information on protections for whistleblowers, visit OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Programs webpage.

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