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Federal Jury Awards Montana Man $2 Million in Lawsuit Against BNSF Railway

A federal jury recently awarded a Montana man more than $2.1 million in a wrongful termination lawsuit against BNSF Railway Co.

The employee and plaintiff was Zachary Wooten of Columbia Falls, Montana. He sued the company, alleging it violated the Federal Rail Safety Act after he was injured on the job at a Whitefish rail yard in July 2015. According to legal documents, Wooten was working as a conductor at the rail yard at the time and suffered significant injuries to his arm and wrist.

The award from the jury included compensation for lost wages, pain and suffering and punitive damages. The trial lasted 11 days. BNSF released a statement signaling its disappointment in the jury’s decision and said it intends to appeal.

Protections against wrongful termination

The federal government affords whistleblowers some key protections against wrongful termination and retaliation when they speak up about wrongdoing within the workplace. These protections are in place to encourage whistleblowers to come forward with information about wrongdoing rather than keeping quiet in fear they will suffer extreme consequences for reporting what they know. In decades past, companies would fire employees who spoke up about these issues without much fear of repercussion. That’s no longer the case thanks to strengthened federal protections.

For example, if you are fired or otherwise retaliated against for reporting concerns about workplace safety, you may seek compensation and/or restitution in a lawsuit against your employer. For more information about the steps you should take toward a potential whistleblower claim, speak with an experienced attorney at Kardell Law Group.


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