Connecticut railway workers are protected as whistleblowers by the Federal Rail Safety Act. A man was awarded $250,000 in punitive damages and $800,000 for emotional distress by a Colorado court on February 19 after he filed a whistleblower retaliation claim against his employer, BNSF Railway Company.
People make mistakes, to be sure. In many cases, the repercussions of those errors are minimal. However, oversight becomes a tremendous problem when it potentially includes multiple lives. Such is the case for the Long Island Rail Road’s (LIRR) installation of faulty equipment during part of a federally mandated safety upgrade.
Railroad employees work in hazardous conditions all of the time, which makes them prone to sustaining injuries while on the job. Because of this, the government created the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) to make sure workers injured while working on the railroad are compensated fairly.
Whistleblowers who work for railroads in Connecticut and around the country may be interested in a ruling that was handed down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. An employee had filed a lawsuit against his employer, BNSF Railway, under the Federal Railroad Safety Act's protection for whistleblowers.
Connecticut residents who regularly take the train know how serious a railway accident can become. In February 2018, an Amtrak passenger train crashed into a parked CSX train just outside of Columbia, South Carolina, killing two train workers and injuring a total of 116 people.
Connecticut residents may be interested to know that the 3rd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled against a railroad worker who was suing NJ Transit for injuries suffered on the job. The judges claimed that the worker could not sue under the Federal Employers Liability Act because the transit authority was an arm of the state and had immunity. The decision could leave countless rail employees in Connecticut, New Jersey and beyond without legal protection in the event of an injury on the job.