Railroad Whistleblower Protection
For exceedingly far too long, railroads have used discrimination, harassment, and threats of discipline to scare injured railroad workers and other workers who come forward to report safety concerns. Stifling accident information by any means, including intimidation and harassment is a federal crime.
OSHA and the FRA have lately increased their implementation of these federal laws and announced to all railroad companies that ‘Discipline for Reporting Must Stop’ yet it continues to occur daily.
We represent injured railroad workers and railroaders who have been wrongly harassed, threatened, discriminated, terminated, or disciplined for reporting injuries or safety concerns.
Ask Yourself Three Questions to Determine if you Have a Railroad Whistleblower Complaint
1. Did you engage in protected activity?
Some activities covered by the Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA) and its derivative cases that are described as protected activity include:
Obtaining a lawyer to handle your FELA injury claim
Filing a whistleblower claim to report an unsafe condition (report can be addressed to either a company official or a government official or agency)
Reporting a personal injury
Good faith refusal to follow unsafe or illegal orders from a supervisor
Asking for medical treatment after suffering from an on-the-job injury (49 U.S.C. 20109(c)(1))
Following the instructions of your treatment given to you by your doctor, regardless of whether the treatment plan is for an on-the-job injury or off-the-job injury
2. Did the company take an adverse action against you or retaliate against you in any way?
Some typical adverse actions practiced by railroads on their employees who have engaged in a protected activity include:
Termination or laying off (most prevalent)
Reassignment that affects pay or hours
Failure to take a railroad worker with an on-the-job injury to the nearest hospital upon request
Threat of an investigation
Any attempt to talk a railroad employee out of engaging in a protected activity.
3. Was the protected activity you engaged in a contributing factor in the company’s adverse action against you?
A protected activity is a “contributing factor” when it plays any part in the adverse action, even if it was not the predominant, primary, or substantial factor.
How Long Do You Have to File a Whistleblower Claim?
A whistleblower claim must be filed within 180 days. Multiple workers wait for a final dismissal from the Public Law Board before discussing their whistleblower claim with the Testa Law Group. It’s essential to know that a disciplinary hearing and appeal to the Public Law Board doesn’t create an “election of remedies” that bars a whistleblower complaint. Furthermore, because Public Law Board hearings and rulings can take up to two (2) years, this usurps the statute of limitations of 180 days that will likely be long expired if you were waiting for this lengthy process to play out before filing your valid whistleblower complaint. When a whistleblower claim is filed, OSHA will start to examine and investigate and look for several key points. A FELA lawyer experienced with whistleblower claims can improve your key points so that the OSHA Investigator will be looking for the correct things in a much easier and streamlined process and can easily recognize the supporting facts that coincide with your claim and evidence. If OSHA finds reasonable proof of actionable discrimination, then they will issue a finding that allows the railroad worker to seek a remedy outside of the Collective Bargaining Agreement usually controlling over such claims. This means that the employee will file a civil lawsuit against the railroad. Moreover, as dictated by the Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA), if there is no final order declared by the Secretary of Labor within 210 days after the filing of the complaint, then you can file a civil action in the appropriate U.S. district court.
Get a Strong Whistleblower Protection Lawyer
If you would like to discuss your case and facts with a dedicated whistleblower lawyer at the Testa Law Group, please call (877) 780-9052 to learn more about the laws applicable in your case. The consultation is free, and it comes with a no strings attached guarantee that we only get paid after we get money for you.