The Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA) protects employees who provide information or assist in an investigation regarding rail safety or any potential violations of federal law from retaliation.
However, if you are a railroad employee and provide such information, you could be subject to retaliation – despite that being a violation of law. That could take the form of a firing, demotion, harassment, discipline, a reduction in hours and more.
If that happens to you, you can file a whistleblower complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to let them know you believe you’ve been subject to retaliation. Once you do that, what is the next step?
A representative of OSHA will contact you and ask questions about the alleged retaliation. OSHA will take that information you’ve provided and use it to determine if enough evidence exists to launch an investigation. It’s important that you keep any evidence to support your allegations, such as emails, voicemails, contracts or other communication from your workplace for both that conversation and a potential investigation.
If it’s found that there is ample evidence to proceed, OSHA will assign a whistleblower investigator to your case. That person is expected to be neutral. Both you and your employer will be asked to provide the other with copies of what has been given to OSHA as well as witness information. Your employer will be given a chance to respond to the complaint, and you’ll have an opportunity to file a rebuttal.
There’s no set amount of time a whistleblower investigation will take. You could settle the complaint through a resolution process or a settlement that OSHA must approve. If the retaliation complaint lingers and OSHA doesn’t issue a ruling in a timely manner, you could opt out and file it instead in federal district court.
If you have any questions about the process, it would be beneficial to consult with an experienced attorney to discuss your case.