The Federal Rail Safety Act was enacted “to promote safety in every area of railroad operations”. 49 U.S.C. 20101. Congress passed amendments in 2007 expanding the protections of employees under the anti-retaliation provisions with enforcement through the Department of Labor. Prior to these amendments, protection under retaliation was a patchwork of state retaliation laws, mostly designed for the workers compensation programs.
A railroad carrier “may not discharge, demote, suspend, reprimand, or in any other way discriminate against an employee if such discrimination is due, in whole or in part to the employee's engagement in one of numerous protected activities”. Examples of protected activity includes notifying a railroad carrier of a work-related personal injury or work-related illness.
The legislative history of the amendments include hearings where it was found that “railroad safety management programs sometimes either subtly or overtly intimidate empoloyees from reporting on-the-job injuries. Additionally, the underreporting of injuries has long been a particular problem, and railroad labor organizations have frequently complained that harassment of employees who reported injuries is a common railroad management practice. This same report found that one of the reasons for this pressure on railroad employees not to report injuries is due to the compensation system of the supervisors and the number of injuries reported to the FRA.
Complaints must be filed within 180 days to OSHA for an investigation and hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. Additionally, after 210 days have passed, a lawsuit may be filed in federal court with a jury trial. This site is sponsored by Morgan & Paul, PLLC, a law firm representing individuals and families in disability, employment and injury cases. For more information, visit www.morgan-paul.com or call at 1-888-967-5674.