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Protecting Whistleblowers

FRSA WHISTLEBLOWER CLAIMS

Since 2007, protection for railroad employee whistleblowers has fallen under the Federal Rail Safety Act (“FRSA”). Under the FRSA, a railroad employee is protected from retaliation and disciplinary actions from reporting to either the government or the railroad violations such as hazardous safety or security conditions. Such retaliation often occurs when reporting a personal injury.

Whistleblower cases are unique and almost always require prompt investigation because you must file your FRSA claim within 180 days (six months) from the date of the adverse employment action.

Successful whistleblowers are entitled to damages, including but not limited to:

  • reinstatement
  • back pay with interest
  • compensatory damages
  • attorneys’ fees
  • expert witness fees
  • punitive damages up to $250,000

These damages do not depend upon the severity of the safety or security problem you report but on the railroad’s reaction to your complaint.

Rossi Vucinovich will aggressively defend your rights and work hard to hold the railroad accountable for retaliating against you in any whistleblower situation.

Federal law protects railroad workers who take actions to make their workplace safe, compliant, and secure. It is illegal for a railroad to take an “adverse action” against a railroad worker because that worker engaged in a “protected activity” 49 U.S.C. § 20109. If this happens . to you, you should contact an attorney at Rossi Vucinovich PC right away, to help protect your rights.

What Sorts of Things Are “Protected Activities”?

  • Reporting any work-related injuries and medical conditions.
  • Reporting hazardous safety conditions, including with equipment, facilities, and right-of-way.
  • Reporting correct hours of service.
  • Filing a complaint with a governmental entity (like OSHA or the FRA), or assisting with an investigation.
  • Obtaining necessary medical treatment for any health condition.

What Are Some Examples of an “Adverse Action”?

  • Retaliation, intimidation, or harassment.
  • Probation
  • Discipline
  • Firing
  • Threats
  • Reduced pay, hours, or scope of work.
  • Refusing or delaying access to medical care, or interfering with medical care via a railroad doctor or nurse.

How do I Protect Myself?

If you believe that you or one of your coworkers may have been subjected to an “adverse action” due to any protected whistleblowing activities, take the following steps:

  • Get Advice
    • Contact your union representatives, and call the experienced railroad attorneys at Rossi Vucinovich PC right away. We are legal counsel designated by your union to help you through these situations.
  • Request any Necessary Medical Care Right Away
    • If you request immediate medical care after an injury, you are highly protected. You are entitled to transportation to the nearest hospital. Remember that the railroad can never delay, deny, or interfere with your treatment and that you get to choose your own doctors.
  • Document Things in Writing
    • Keep detailed notes of all relevant dates, conversations, witnesses, and personnel involved.
  • File a Timely Complaint with OSHA
    • You must file your complaint no later than 180 days after an “adverse action” so do not delay. Seek legal help promptly to guide you through this process.
  • Benefits to You
    • If a railroad violates these rules, they may have to pay you punitive damages up to $250,000 plus all of your missed or reduced pay, emotional distress damages, reinstatement, removal of any adverse employment report, and your attorney fees.
    • The lawyers at Rossi Vucinovich will be there to help you protect your rights, each step of the way. Contact us today.