Georgia readers may have heard that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration found that Union Pacific Railroad is guilty of a retaliatory termination. The agency has now ordered the company to reinstate the position of a male worker and to pay damages worth more than $85,000 to the man after it violated the Federal Railroad Safety Act.
After an investigation, OSHA found that Union Pacific terminated the worker after he reported a workplace injury. The injury happened on Oct. 15, 2012 at the North Platte terminal when a chair that the man was using fell. The man told his superior and filled out a personal injury report that noted the state of the chair was a factor in causing his injuries. Subsequently, Union Pacific removed the worker from his position and claimed that he violated the company’s workplace violence policy. It also accused him of other workplace violations before terminating his employment.
However, OSHA found in its investigation that Union Pacific retaliated by firing the worker for engaging in protected behavior. It also discovered that the company was hostile toward the man for reporting his injury. The organization subsequently ordered the company to give the worker his job back and to pay him compensatory damages worth $100,000, punitive damages worth $75,000 and cover lawyer fees. Union Pacific also has to remove all disciplinary reports from the worker’s personnel record and give its employees information about whistleblower rights.
The FRSA and other statutes protect workers who report various employer violations, including those of worker safety. Statutes also protect the financial interest of workers who are injured while on the job. If this workplace accident had happened in Georgia, the worker’s medical treatment may have been covered under workers’ compensation insurance. This is because state law requires all employers who have three or more people on staff to provide that form of coverage.
Source: OSHA, “Union Pacific Railroad ordered to reinstate injured employee, pay more than $85,000 in damages after OSHA found illegal retaliation”, April 23, 2014
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