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Activists call for ouster of LIRR's freight operator

The Long Island Rail Road is facing calls from community activists to cut ties with its freight rail operator after laborers filed a lawsuit alleging they were subjected to illegal and dangerous working conditions. The lawsuit, filed against New York & Atlantic Railway, asserts that the company hired day laborers with no training to perform hazardous track maintenance.

In additional to alleging unsafe working conditions, the laborers also claim that they lacked any appropriate equipment or training for the dangerous repairs they were tasked with. While the repairs to the tracks required workers with specific certifications, most of the laborers were allegedly hired by New York & Atlantic Railway outside of a Home Depot. The suit has been a catalyst for community organizers and some elected officials to pressure the Long Island Rail Road to cut ties with the company that has operated the freight service on its tracks since 1997. This is not the first brush with activists the New York & Atlantic Railway has faced: In 2016, the Federal Railroad Administration cited New York & Atlantic Railway with unsafe work practices.

The New York & Atlantic Railway disputes these allegations and plans on filing a legal response. The company has said that the claims are "unsubstantiated, uncorroborated and unsupported."

Railway workers injured on the job may not qualify for workers compensation. The Federal Employers Liability Act, or FELA, was enacted to compensate railroad workers who were injured at work. A railroad employee injured on the job may be able to file a FELA claim for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. An attorney with experience in FELA claims may be able to help that individual file a claim and navigate the process.

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