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OSHA’s Region 7 Office announced Wednesday that BNSF has been ordered to pay an employee over $95,000 for violating the Whistleblower Provisions of the FRSA. BNSF suspended the employee for 30 days after he reported an on-the-job injury. BNSF suspended the employee for 30 days for allegedly using the wrong tool in the incident in which he was hurt. OSHA’s investigation concluded that the tool was not available to the employee until after he was hurt.

An OSHA investigation upheld the employee’s allegation that the Ft. Worth, Texas-based railroad issued him a Level S 30-day record suspension and one-year probation in retaliation for reporting a work-related injury.

The investigation found that officials from the railroad disciplined the complainant for not using the proper tool to perform a work task even though the evidence showed that the proper tools were not available and were not placed in their appropriate location until after the complainant’s injury. This was contrary to the usual company practice, in which management takes no issue with workers using a different tool so long as the work gets done in a timely manner.

“An employer does not have the right to retaliate against employees who report work-related injuries,” said Charles E. Adkins, OSHA’s regional administrator in Kansas City, Mo. “While OSHA is best known for ensuring the safety and health of employees, it is also a federal whistleblower protection agency.”

Read OSHA’s news release about this case

Published by FELA lawyer news blog at Gordon, Elias & Seely, LLP

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