The Norfolk Southern Railway Co. has had several expensive decisions handed down against it in the past few years by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Recently, the company was ordered to pay $1.1 million to three employees, one in Indiana and two in Pennsylvania, because OSHA found that they had been injured at work and retaliated against when they reported their injuries. The Indiana employee, who was injured when a sliver of metal entered his eye, was awarded $438,000 in punitive damages, back wages, benefits and other costs and ordered to be reinstated to his job at his proper seniority level with all the vacation and sick leave he would have earned had he been working. The company was ordered to pay the other two $648,000 for the same costs after injuries in a traffic accident. These are only three three examples as Norfolk Southern has paid numerous claimants for retaliation claims after workplace injury reporting over the past few years. Some of these cases settled, but some have had to go through the whole process for the employee to receive compensation. Just this month, an OSHA spokesperson said, “The company continues to retaliate against employees for reporting work-related injuries, and these actions have effectively created a chilling effect in the railroad industry.”
As Georgia work accident attorneys, we know that these work accident retaliation cases have had an impact in our state as well. Last November, an incident with Norfolk Southern occurred in Savannah. The worker in question, whose name was not released because of a Department of Labor policy on whistleblowers, was fired from his job on November 5, 2009. OSHA found that he was forced to sign a “leniency waiver” by the company on March 30, 2010 and then he returned to work six months later on September 20. OSHA stated that this employee’s investigative hearing was “severely flawed and intentionally designed to support its decision to terminate the worker.”
OSHA ordered Norfolk Southern to pay that employee more than $288,000 for this alleged retaliation for his work injury claim. Norfolk Southern’s actions violated the whistleblower provisions of the Federal Railway Safety Act, according to OSHA. The company has challenged the ruling. Robin Chapman, their spokesman, wrote an email saying, “OSHA’s investigation in this matter is flawed and one sided because, to date, Norfolk Southern has not been permitted to question the employee under oath or cross examine any of his witnesses. We disagree with the finding and will appeal to an administrative law judge.”
Atlanta Work Accident Attorneys
If you or someone in your family has been injured in a work accident, the Work Injury Lawyers at Sammons & Carpenter may be able to help you get the needed worker’s compensation and protection from retaliation from your employer. Contact our law office today at 855-814-8948 as soon as possible, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form for a free consultation.
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