FORT WAYNE, IN. — An OSHA investigation found that a Ft. Wayne crane operator, employed by Norfolk Southern, was wrongfully fired for reporting workplace injuries. OSHA has ordered Norfolk Southern railroad to expunge the disciplinary record of the railroad worker, to reinstate the employee it fired and to pay him nearly $438,000 in damages.
According to NewSentinel.com, the worker, based in Fort Wayne, was a crane operator who was removed from service after reporting an eye injury that required the extraction of a sliver of metal and rust ring from his eye. The injury occurred while he was operating a crane in support of a bridge-building operation in Albany, Ind. The employee was taken out of service and formally terminated on Aug. 24, 2010, after an internal investigation determined he had made false statements concerning the injury.
OSHA’s investigation concluded that the worker would not have been terminated if he had not reported the injury. OSHA has ordered the railroad to pay him a total of $437,591.70 in damages, which includes $100,000 in compensatory damages for pain and suffering, $175,000 in punitive damages, and $156,518.94 in back wages and benefits. It also includes compensation of $6,072.76 to the crane operator for penalties incurred when he had to cash in savings bonds prior to their maturity date after being terminated.
The railroad said Thursday it will appeal that ruling and another by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Source: News Sentinel
Blog post by Gordon, Elias & Seely, a FELA lawyer and Indiana railroad injury lawyer who publishes train accidents and FELA legal news from across the United States.