Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Norfolk Southern ordered by feds to pay over $300K to whistleblower
The U.S. Department of Labor announced that Norfolk Southern Railway violated provisions of the Federal Railroad Safety Act and must pay over $300,000 to an employee, or "whistleblower."
The Chattanooga-based employee reported an injury when he hit his hard hat against a horizontal support beam, according to the DOJ.
The railroad charged the employee with falsifying his injury and subsequently terminated him on Oct. 8, 2010, the DOJ said.
The employee appealed and his termination was reduced to a suspension with no back pay.
The DOJ said in a statement that OSHA found the railroad's investigative hearing "was severely flawed and orchestrated to intentionally support management's decision to terminate the employee."
As a result of OSHA's investigation, Norfolk Southern has been ordered to pay the employee $200,000 in punitive damages, $75,000 in compensatory damages, and $25,123.40 in attorney's fees. The railroad must also expunge the disciplinary record of the employee as well as post a notice regarding employees' whistleblower protection rights under the FRSA and provide training to its employees about these rights, the DOJ said.
Either party to this case can file an appeal to the Labor Department's Office of Administrative Law Judges.
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