New Jersey Transit paid nearly $700,000 to settle a federal whistleblower complaint filed by one of its conductors. The conductor claimed he was the victim of retaliation from the agency after he saw a worker electrocuted and decided to take the next day off work. The worker suffered fatal burns in the accident, which reportedly occurred while he was working on one of the overhead electric wires above train tracks in Newark.
The conductor’s job was to “flag” the tracks in the area to help protect the crews working on the overhead wires. There were also two line workers on hand to protect the crew, but they failed to warn the overhead personnel about the specific locations of where wires were electrified during outages. The conductor saw one worker get too close to one of the electrified wires and suffer the injuries.
He took a day off under the recommendation of an evaluator from the New Jersey Transit Employee Assistance Program. However, after that, the conductor had disciplinary actions filed against him for violations of several rules, which supervisors said caused the accident. He was suspended for a year without pay, which caused him to lose his home and car and severely damaged his credit rating.
The conductor eventually filed a complaint with OSHA, which ordered NJ Transit to pay him $570,000 for its “reckless disregard” for the law. The transit agency appealed the ruling, but then decided to settle out of court rather than go to trial.
If you believe you have been a victim of workplace retaliation, meet with a skilled Dallas attorney at Whistleblower Law for Managers right away.