Protecting Whistleblowers & The Injured

Railroad projects and expansions may increase fraud risks

On Behalf of | Feb 14, 2024 | Whistleblower

Railroads are not nearly as popular as they were a few decades ago. They were once the preferred solution for transportation across the country for all kinds of purposes. Passengers ranging from politicians to musicians might plan to cross the country on a train. Those traveling for business or pleasure also relied on trains for safe and cost-effective ground transportation. Beyond that, manufacturers and businesses of all types relied on freight trains to deliver their goods to consumers or bring supplies that they need to conduct business.

Trains simply do not transport nearly as many passengers or consumer goods as they once did, but they still receive significant federal investments as a key form of infrastructure. And where there is federal investment, there is the risk of fraud. As such, a recent influx in funding through federal infrastructure bills might mean an increase in fraud activity at major railroads.

Fraud comes in many shapes and sizes

Fraud in the railroad industry could involve employees exaggerating their medical conditions to file claims for specialized health coverage. Fraud could also involve the workers at a business reporting that they had done work that they never performed.

Railroads sometimes bill the federal government for services not rendered. Such fraud is particularly dangerous to the public, as it may delay necessary repairs to railroad infrastructure. Poorly-maintained sections of freight and passenger lines could experience derailments and other major incidents. Both workers and passengers could end up injured because of maintenance-related fraud.

Railroad workers may sometimes uncover evidence of organizational misconduct. When that occurs, they may need to speak up about the matter. Whistleblower protection laws help protect railroad employees from career penalties if they report billing fraud internally or to federal regulatory agencies. In some cases, railroad employees can even pursue qui tam lawsuits against the railroad on behalf of the federal government for fraudulent billing practices.

Such efforts can hold railroads accountable for dangerous company practices. If a lawsuit is successful, the railroad worker might even receive compensation. Anytime there is an increase in the budget for railroad maintenance and repairs, there is an additional incentive for railroads or their employees to engage in fraudulent billing activities. And, knowing when to speak up could help a railroad worker protect themselves and members of the public from potentially catastrophic incidents.

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