Railroad workers in New York are protected under the National Transit Systems Security Act when they report conduct by their employers that they reasonably believe violate safety laws. They are also protected when they report their employers for committing fraud against the government.
According to the law, railways may not discharge or discriminate against workers because they have acted as whistleblowers. If they do engage in retaliatory actions against the workers for reporting them to the government for fraud or safety violations, the employers may be liable to pay substantial damages to the workers.
Whistleblowers may file complaints with the Secretary of Labor about the retaliation against them. The complaints must be filed within 180 days of when the retaliatory action occurred. The complaints must establish prima facie cases that unlawful retaliation occurred. If the investigation confirms that the employers retaliated against the whistleblowers, the employees may recover back pay with interest and be reinstated to their jobs. They may also recover the costs of litigation and reasonable attorney’s fees. Finally, punitive damages in an amount of up to $250,000 may be awarded in egregious cases.
The National Transit Systems Security Act provides important protections to whistleblowers. Workers who discover that their employers are engaging in fraud against the government or have committed safety violations may want to consult with experienced attorneys who may assist their clients with filing qui tam actions against the railroad companies on behalf of the government if their clients are given leave to sue. If the workers are retaliated against by their employers for whistleblowing, the attorneys may file complaints on behalf of their clients with the Secretary of Labor and work to recover compensatory damages and punitive damages to compensate their clients for their losses and to deter the railroad companies from engaging in future bad conduct.