Do You Need a Railroad Safety Whistleblower Lawyer?

Do You Need a Railroad Safety Whistleblower Lawyer?
  • Are you a railway employee who fears being fired after reporting a safety concern?
  • Have you been harassed or punished because you refused to work in hazardous conditions?
  • Is your career as a railroad employee in danger because you refused to stay quiet?

If you're a railway worker facing wrongful termination, the law is on your side.

The Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA) is a federal law that allows railroad workers to bring attention to safety issues without fear of punishment. Under the FRSA's whistleblower-protection provision, railroad companies cannot retaliate against employees who warn of safety violations. If you're a railway worker who was fired unfairly, the FRSA may help you to get your job back.

The whistleblower attorneys at The Employment Law Group® law firm are experienced in representing employees in forums where FRSA claims are brought, both before the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and in federal court. We are based in Washington, D.C., but we take cases nationwide.

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Important statutes in this area of law:

If you have suffered illegal retaliation under the FRSA, you may be entitled to reinstatement, back pay, and special damages as well as litigation costs, expert witness fees, and reasonable attorney fees.

As with all legal claims, deadlines are crucial. Employees who seek justice under the FRSA must file a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), an arm of the DOL, within 180 days.

Frequently Asked Questions

What activities are covered under FRSA whistleblower protection?

In 2007 President George W. Bush signed the 9/11 Act. Section 1521 of the 9/11 Act amends the FRSA by expanding the scope of protected activity and enhancing remedies for railroad employees who blow the whistle on railroad safety. An employee engages in protected activity by:

  • Reporting a hazardous safety or security condition;
  • Refusing to work when confronted by a hazardous safety or security condition related to the performance of the employee’s duties;
  • Refusing to authorize the use of any safety or security related equipment, track or structures under certain hazardous conditions;
  • Providing information or assisting in an investigation regarding conduct which the employee reasonably believes constitutes a violation of Federal law relating to railroad safety and security — or relating to fraud, waste, or abuse of federal funds intended for railroad safety or security;
  • Being perceived by the employer to have engaged in the protected activity;
  • Refusing to violate or assist in the violation of a federal law, rule or regulation relating to railroad safety or security;
  • Filing an employee protection complaint under the FRSA;
  • Notifying or attempting to notify the railroad carrier or the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) of a work-related personal injury or work-related illness of an employee;
  • Cooperating with safety or security investigation conducted by the DOT, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), or the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB); and
  • Furnishing information to the DOT, DHS, NTSB or any law enforcement agency regarding an accident resulting in death or injury to a person in connection with railroad transportation.

What adverse actions are prohibited?

The FRSA prohibits any action taken by an employer that has a negative effect on the employee’s terms, conditions, or privileges of employment. This includes intimidation, blacklisting, termination, suspension, demotion, reduction in salary, failure to hire, harassment, and any act that would dissuade a reasonable person from engaging in further protected activity.

What must a Railroad Safety Whistleblower prove to prevail?

To prevail in an FRSA case, an employee must establish that he or she engaged in a protected activity and that the protected activity was a contributing factor in the unfavorable personnel action.

What is the employer’s burden?

If a plaintiff successfully establishes that his or her protected activity was a contributing factor to the adverse action, an employer may avoid liability by demonstrating by clear and convincing evidence that it would have taken the same unfavorable personnel action in the absence of the protected activity.

What can a Railroad Safety Whistleblower recover?

A prevailing plaintiff is entitled to reinstatement, back pay, and compensatory damages. In addition, a prevailing plaintiff can recover exemplary or punitive damages up to $250,000.