Whistleblowing statutes protect workers who come forward and disclose protected activities and safety hazards from being retaliated against by their employers.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is responsible for enforcing at least 22 federal whistleblower statutes currently on the law books in the U.S. OSHA data shows that railroad workers came forward and filed at least 2,000 whistleblower complaints between 2007 and 2015. The allegations that they made shed light on many of the problems that plague the rail industry.
Safety hazards rail workers face
OSHA’s data shows that at least one-half of the whistleblower complaints reported to either the U.S. Department of Labor or OSHA stem from rail companies retaliating against their workers for reporting job-related injuries.
The federal regulatory agency’s data shows that claims filed against either Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Company (BNSF) or Union Pacific are significantly higher than those for other rail companies. Some examples of injury-related retaliation that have emerged from this industry include:
- A BNSF employee alleged in their 2013 whistleblower claim that the rail company went out of its way to issue demerits to workers who reported their work-related injuries.
- In 2010, a BNSF veteran employee tasked with maintaining a rail crossing suffered a fractured tibia after a wood plank struck him while on the job. His employer accused him of being inattentive after reporting his injury before suspending him from his role.
- A Connecticut-based rail worker recorded a conversation with his Metro-North superiors. They informed him that reporting his injuries may affect his career advancement as they were en route to the hospital with him.
While many rail worker whistleblower claims center around injuries, there are countless other reasons why industry workers file lawsuits against their employers.
Other reasons why rail workers file whistleblower claims
A 2011 Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) report shows that the federal agency received reports of 357 safety violations, 112 of which involved signal systems defects.
OSHA’s data also chronicles how employers regularly retaliate against workers who decline to perform certain activities that violate existing safety regulations or ones who report misuses of rail company funds.
Do you have a valid rail worker whistleblower claim?
It takes a lot of courage to come forward and report an employer’s impropriety. An attorney here in New Haven can help you determine whether your allegations carry significant enough weight to file a whistleblower lawsuit here in Connecticut.