A Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA) whistleblower has received $1.6 million in a jury verdict after he was fired by BNSF for performing a safety check on an air brake on a train carrying hazardous materials.
In his complaint, the plaintiff claimed that he was terminated for conducting the safety check after a supervisor told him to skip it. He argued that performing the check was protected activity under the FRSA, while attorneys from BNSF said that the safety check was unnecessary and not required under federal law. The company also claimed that the plaintiff moved ahead with the procedure simply to slow down service and earn more wages.
Back in 2011, an arbitration panel had ruled in favor of BNSF, while the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) ruled in favor of the plaintiff two years later. Because of this conflict, the case was moved to federal court, where the plaintiff won his jury verdict earlier this year.
As a result of the verdict, BNSF must pay the man a total of $1.6 million to cover back pay, front pay, pain and suffering damages and punitive damages. Although it took several years, it looks like the whistleblower will be properly rewarded for doing what he believed to be the right thing — especially considering the fact that he was performing a standard safety check on potentially hazardous rail cars.
To learn more about the protections available to whistleblowers under the FRSA and various other federal laws, consult a knowledgeable attorney at Whistleblower Law for Managers in Dallas, Texas.