An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has found Metro North Commuter Railroad liable for unlawful disciplinary charges brought against an employee who filed a whistleblower complaint with OSHA.
The employee, who worked in Metro-North’s New Haven, CT rail yard, had accused the railroad company of retaliating against him following his 2008 report to OSHA of a workplace injury.
In a press release dated Jan, 5 2011, Marthe Kent, OSHA’s New England regional administrator commented that: “Taking repeated disciplinary action against an employee who exercised his legal right to report an on-the-job injury and voiced a complaint about retaliatory treatment by his employer is unconscionable. Such treatment instills a culture of silence in which hazardous conditions are masked because employees will be fearful of reporting them.”
OSHA ordered Metro-North to pay the worker $5,500 in attorney’s fees and $75,000 in punitive damages, for a total of $80,500. In addition, the railroad was instructed to provide its employees with information about their right to report on-the-job injuries.