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Company Ordered to Pay Whistleblower Employee Who Reported Unsafe Working Conditions

The employee had reported an unsafe customer gate and an on-the-job injury.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has ordered CSX Transportation Inc. – headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida – to reinstate and pay more than $95,000 in back wages to an employee terminated by the company for reporting an unsafe customer gate and an on-the-job injury. OSHA also ordered the rail-based freight transportation company to pay the employee $75,000 in punitive damages, $27,000 in compensatory damages, and attorney’s fees.

An OSHA investigation determined that the company violated the whistleblower provision of the Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA) when it issued the employee a charge letter and subjected the employee to an investigative hearing that led to the employee’s termination. OSHA also ordered the company to train managers and employees on FRSA’s worker protections. CSX may appeal the order to the Department’s Office of Administrative Law Judges.

“This order underscores the U.S. Department of Labor’s commitment to protect employees who report workplace hazards and injuries,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Kurt Petermeyer in Atlanta, Georgia.

OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program enforces the whistleblower provisions of more than 20 whistleblower statutes, protecting employees from retaliation for reporting violations of various workplace safety and health, airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health insurance reform, motor vehicle safety, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime, securities and tax laws, and for engaging in other related protected activities.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and providing training, education and assistance.

Editor’s note: The U.S. Department of Labor does not release the names of employees involved in whistleblower complaints.

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