OSHA Finds Another Injured Worker Unlawfully Fired by Norfolk Southern RR
WASHINGTON, March 1, 2013
Railroad Again Found in Violation of FRSA
WASHINGTON, March1, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --The Occupational Safety
and Health Administration (OSHA) on February 27 issued another significant
finding against the Norfolk Southern Railway (NS) for violating the Federal
Railroad Safety Act (FRSA). This was the third of three separate findings
against NS issued on February 27, 2013, and the latest in a series of cases in
which OSHA, after a full investigation, concluded that NS fired Brotherhood of
Maintenance of Way Employes Division (BMWED) members merely for seeking
medical attention for on-the-job injuries.
Section 20109 of the FRSA provides railroad workers with rights and remedies
against unlawful railroad company retaliation for reporting injuries, seeking
medical attention, and raising safety and security concerns.
In this case, a BMWED member with a fine work record was fired by NS after
getting a small piece of metal in his eye on the job and seeking medical
attention to have it removed. The employee was charged by NS for making "false
and conflicting" statements because he was unable to identify exactly when and
how the metal entered his eye. Following his dismissal the employee, with the
assistance of BMWED, filed a complaint with OSHA alleging retaliation for
reporting the injury and seeking medical attention.
In issuing its findings OSHA ordered the NS to reinstate the employee with all
rights, seniority, and benefits; pay the claimant lost wages and benefits in
the amount of $156,518.94 plus interest; compensatory damages in the amount of
$6,072.76 plus interest; $100,000.00 for humiliation and mental and emotional
pain; punitive damages of $150,000.00; and reasonable attorney fees. OSHA also
ordered NS to expunge the employee's record and restore Railroad Retirement
Board credits lost since being unlawfully fired.
OSHA found that the railroad "created an atmosphere which discourages
employees from reporting workplace injuries unless absolutely necessary."
Furthermore, stated OSHA, "this is not the first case where OSHA has found
reasonable cause to believe that Respondent retaliated against an employee in
violation of the FRSA by instituting disciplinary proceedings and terminating
an employee for reporting a workplace injury."
Since just the beginning of 2012, OSHA has ordered NS to pay over three
million dollars in back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, and attorney
fees and costs to employees for violating their rights under the FRSA.
BMWED President Freddie N. Simpson said, "OSHA is doing a great job in
enforcing a law passed with strong bipartisan support and signed into law in
2008. Enforcement of this law protects not just workers but public safety as
well. Assistant Secretary of Labor Dr. David Michaels and his staff at OSHA
have thoroughly investigated this complaint and have delivered fact-based
justice to another BMWED member. I hope this worker and his family can find
some comfort in the fact that they have been vindicated and their integrity
has been restored."
President Simpson added, "BMWED is willing to work cooperatively with the NS
to insure that the rights of BMWED members to report injuries and safety
concerns free from retaliation are respected. With three significant findings
issued against NS on the same day, upper management undoubtedly knows there is
a serious problem. BMWED stands willing and able to help NS replace this
retaliatory culture with positive, cooperative programs which will improve
worker morale, safety, and productivity."
The claimant in this case was represented by BMWED-designated attorneys. A
copy of the OSHA findings, as well a copy of a related OSHA News Release, is
posted at www.bmwe.org
BMWED, a division of the Rail Conference of the International Brotherhood of
Teamsters, represents 35,000 members who build, inspect, construct, maintain
and repair railroad tracks, bridges, and related infrastructure throughout the
United States. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4
million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and
SOURCE Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division/Teamsters Rail
Contact: Rick Inclima, +1-248-760-6966
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