Many New York City workers who live in New Jersey commute to their jobs through public transportation. However, they may not know that if a transportation worker gets hurt, it may be difficult for that person to file a lawsuit against his or her employer. This is because NJ Transit has claimed that it had sovereign immunity because it was a government entity and thus it cannot be sued under the 1908 Federal Employers Liability Act.
However, a new law passed by New Jersey’s legislature and signed by the governor in June 2019 prohibits NJ Transit from using that defense in many cases. There was a concern that workers may not bother to report unsafe work conditions if nothing could be done to fix them. Legislators decided to take action after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit ruled for the agency in January 2019 in a case that was originally filed by a NJ Transit worker in 2011.
Generally speaking, employees are entitled to a safe work environment that is free from known hazards. If an employer or employee discovers a hazard, it must typically be mitigated before work can continue. Workers may have the right to not perform a task if they legitimately believe that doing so could jeopardize their health or safety.
In general, the primary recourse that railroad workers who are injured on the job have is to file a claim under the Federal Employers Liability Act. Unlike state workers’ compensation programs, where there is no need to prove fault, FELA requires the injured party to show that the railroad’s negligence played at least a part in causing the resulting harm. Injured workers might want to have the assistance of an experienced attorney throughout the process