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OSHA Orders Union Pacific to Reinstate and Pay Whistleblower Employee $300,000

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On December 21, 2011 the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), a division of the Department of Labor ordered Union Pacific Railroad. Co. to rehire a former employee after an unlawful termination.

The employee, who remains unidentified due to OSHA policy, filed a whistleblower complaint against Union Pacific after the company suspended then fired the employee 23 days after the employee reported an on-the-job injury.  OSHA conducted an extensive investigation and found reasonable cause to believe that Union Pacific terminated the employee as a disciplinary action for reporting a workplace injury in violation of the Federal Railroad Safety Act’s whistleblower protection provisions.

OSHA’s Assistant Secretary of Labor David Michaels voiced his support of this decision, stating

“This case sends a clear message that OSHA will not tolerate retaliation against workers for reporting a work-related injury. An unreported injury is an uninvestigated injury. Nothing is learned that can help prevent the next injury.”

In addition to being reinstated, the employee will receive  $300,000 in back wages plus compensatory damages, punitive damages, and attorney’s fees.  OSHA also ordered the railroad not to retaliate against any other employees in the future.


 

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