According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), CSX Transportation Inc. retaliated against an employee in Selkirk, New York, who reported internal safety concerns to company management.
The employee was a union official. He made the report on September 6, 2013, communicating in a letter to a plant superintendent a number of safety hazards and violations of the Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA). The letter also contained information regarding the union’s intent to remove its support of the safety committee at the plant.
Several months later, management at CSX suspended the employee for five days for an alleged safety violation. In March, the employee filed his complaint with OSHA, saying the suspension was an act of retaliation.
OSHA investigates and agrees
After investigating the claim, OSHA found the company had indeed acted in violation of the FRSA’s anti-retaliation rules. It ordered CSX to pay the worker attorney’s fees and punitive damages and to take corrective action. The suspension had been reversed, but OSHA representatives said it never should have happened in the first place — as it was punishing the employee for simply doing his job. The company’s retaliation cost the employee money, time and reputation, along with some significant distress, according to the agency.
CSX paid out more than $32,000 in damages, expunged the employee’s record and had to agree to train all new employees on the FRSA and employee rights.
This case serves as an example of what can go wrong when a company mishandles a safety complaint. To learn more about how you can protect your business from these issues, contact a knowledgeable Dallas attorney at Whistleblower Law for Managers.