Understand Your Legal Rights After Railroad Harassment
You may be aware of incidents of harassment, intimidation and threats made by railroad supervisors against employees who:
- Have been injured
- Have filed an injury report
- Have sought medical attention
- Have reported unsafe tools, equipment or conditions
Many of you have been victims in the past of harassment and intimidation. Individuals have been reluctant to speak up on the record for fear of being fired, disciplined or otherwise being retaliated against by the railroad.
In the past, the fear of having the railroad come down on you was very real. Now, federal law provides you with very real legal protections and legal remedies against the carriers.
This legislation was passed in August 2007. It provides specific whistleblower protections for railroad workers pursuant to Title 49 U.S.C. Section 20109. The law states that a railroad may not discharge, demote, suspend, reprimand or in any other way discriminate against an employee for assisting in any investigation or providing information as outlined in Section 20109.
This protection extends to any railroad worker providing information to a supervisor or other person who has the authority to investigate, discover or stop the conduct in question. The federal protection also extends to a worker who refuses to violate or who refuses to help violate a railroad safety requirement.
Most significantly, this law also protects workers who:
- Report a work-related illness or injury
- File a lawsuit for personal injuries pursuant to the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) or agree to testify in such a suit
- Refuse to work in what they believe to be a hazardous situation or who report the existence of a hazardous situation
Enforcement Procedure Of Harassment Allegations
If you believe that your rights pursuant to this new law have been violated or that you have been a victim of railroad harassment and intimidation, an initial complaint must be filed (within 180 days of the alleged violation) with the Secretary of Labor.
If the Secretary of Labor has not issued a ruling within 210 days, you may file a federal lawsuit and are entitled to a jury trial.
Your damages include:
- Reinstatement with the same seniority status that you would have had, had you not been discriminated against
- Back pay with interest
- Compensation for any special damages sustained as a result of the discrimination including litigation costs, expert witness fees and reasonable attorney fees
- Punitive damages in an amount not to exceed $250,000
With this legislation, no railroad worker should be afraid or reluctant to file a report of injury or pursue remedies under the law.
Take Action To Protect Yourself Legally
If you believe that you are a victim of any type of threat, harassment or intimidation by the railroad for pursuing your rights, speak with us during a free consultation. Call 800-624-4571 or complete the contact form on our website.