The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) gave a MTA Metro-North railroad employee a record award under the Federal Railroad Safety Act after they suffered an injury in 2011. The $250,000 in punitive damages and additional $10,000 in compensatory damages awarded to the unnamed victim make up the most money ever given in a FSRA retaliation case.
According to OSHA’s investigation into the incident, the employee was retaliated against after he reported a knee injury that he suffered while on the job on November 7, 2011. Dr. David Michaels, the Assistant Secretary for Labor at OSHA, decried the decision by Metro-North to retaliate against him, saying that it was clear that its conduct was “deliberate and discriminatory.”
Reports indicate that a Metro-North supervisor intimidated the worker while he was being driven to the hospital, telling him that employees of the railroad that suffer injuries while on the job are typically written up for safety violations and usually are passed over when it comes to promotions or general advancement within the company. Reports from other employees within the company back up the claims of the victim. Other reports indicate that other employees who suffered injuries on the job did not file reports for fear of being retaliated against. One worker allegedly injured her foot and showed up to work on crutches to keep a clean injury record.
OSHA’s investigation also revealed that Metro-North did not have a program in place that encouraged employees to report safety issues within the company, or any form of guidelines at all about reporting general safety hazards. OSHA also forced Metro-North to expunge the employee’s employment record of all disciplinary action.
If you become aware of OSHA violations within your business or organization, take action as soon as possible to ensure the behavior is corrected. Speak with the Dallas attorneys at Whistleblower Law for Managers for more information on how to proceed.