Generally, it is illegal for a railroad company to fire an employee for reporting a company’s safety violation. Since 2007, protection for a railroad employee whistleblower has fallen under the Federal Rail Safety Act (“FRSA”). Under the FRSA, a railroad employee is protected from retaliation and disciplinary actions from reporting such things as hazardous safety or security conditions to either the government or the railway company.

What is the Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA)?

The FRSA essentially protects railroad workers who take actions to make their workplace safe, compliant, and secure. Under this statute, it is illegal for a railroad to take an “adverse action” against a railroad worker because that worker engaged in a “protected activity”

“Protected activities” include:

  • 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, and
  • Obtaining necessary medical treatment for any health condition.

Under the FRSA, the following are a few examples of “adverse actions:”

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

What Happens if a Railway Does Not Comply with the Law?

There are definite times when a railway does not adhere to FRSA and illegally takes an adverse action against an employee for engaging in a protected activity. In these circumstances, the employee can file a FRSA claim against the employer. Note, though, that employees must file the claim within 180 days (six months) from the date of the adverse employment action.

If successful in the claim, the employee is entitled to such damages as:

  • Reinstatement,
  • Back pay with interest,
  • Compensatory damages,
  • Attorneys’ fees,
  • Expert witness fees, and
  • Punitive damages up to $250,000.

Contact Rossi Vucinovich for Help

If you believe your employer took an adverse action against you for reporting a safety incident, contact our law firm for help. Rossi Vucinovich PC has been helping railroad employees for over 50 years. We are dedicated to helping you obtain the benefits you need to move past an adverse action. Do yourself a favor and contact us today to get the legal help you deserve.