Protecting Whistleblowers & The Injured

3 actions that constitute whistleblower retaliation

On Behalf of | Jun 10, 2024 | Whistleblower

Employees working for railroad companies perform jobs that have direct consequences for the safety of others. Whether they help with infrastructure maintenance or daily operations, their job functions influence one of the most important transportation systems in the country.

Therefore, railroad workers often feel compelled to speak up when they recognize signs of concerning safety violations. Maybe a company has billed for maintenance services that it did not actually perform on sections of the railroad. Perhaps there are safety violations that put workers at risk of injury or increase the likelihood of a passenger train derailing.

Workers who report safety concerns typically have protection from retaliation because they chose to act as whistleblowers. Unfortunately, companies may still try to punish them anyway. What types of conduct might constitute whistleblower retaliation?

Summary termination

The form of whistleblower retaliation most people fear is the loss of a job. They know that companies might choose to fire anyone who speaks up about safety concerns and regulatory violations. Companies might terminate a worker as soon as they bring issues to the attention of management or after learning that they have been in communication with regulatory agencies.

Detrimental transfers

Overt termination could lead to workers fighting company misconduct by filing a lawsuit. Many employers therefore try to make someone’s job less comfortable or profitable instead of firing them. The hope is to get that worker to quit. Transferring someone who has worked in one location to a position where they must travel and be away from their families for weeks could be retaliatory. So could moving someone to an overnight shift or a different location. Demotions and moving a worker to a different position within the company that offers less compensation could also constitute illegal retaliation.

Inappropriate discipline

Companies have the right to enforce their disciplinary standards when workers misbehave or fail to meet certain metrics. Unfortunately, sometimes companies hide retaliatory behavior under a thin disguise of discipline.

If a worker starts getting written up for being three minutes late to a shift after years of no complaints or if the company suddenly starts enforcing dress code rules against them that it does not enforce against other workers, those disciplinary actions might be an attempt to hide retaliatory punishment. Once the company has enough infractions on record, it can then attempt to terminate the worker and claim it did so for cause not out of retaliation.

Those who act as whistleblowers need to be able to recognize retaliation. They also need to maintain personal records so that they can prove what the company has done to violate their rights. Learning about whistleblower retaliation can help railroad workers who feel like they have to report a concerning safety issue. Whistleblowers should not have to worry about losing their jobs or facing other penalties because they choose to do the right thing.

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