Region 2 News Release: 10-275-NEW
March 9, 2010
Contact: Brad Mitchell Leni Fortson
Phone: 312-353-6976 215-861-5102
US Labor Department's OSHA finds Port Authority Trans-Hudson Corp. railroad violated federal whistleblower law
NEW YORK -- A whistleblower investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has found that The Port Authority Trans-Hudson Corp. of New York and New Jersey violated the rights of an employee when it imposed discipline on her for exercising her rights under the Federal Railroad Safety Act.
The employee was injured when a chair she sat on broke, causing her to fall. When she reported the injury, the railroad charged her with having caused the accident herself. The employee then filed a whistleblower complaint with OSHA alleging that the railroad had disciplined her for reporting her injury. OSHA's investigation, conducted under the whistleblower provisions of the Federal Railroad Safety Act, found merit to the complaint.
"Railroad employees have the legal right to report work-related injuries," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York. "Railroads that retaliate against employees for exercising their rights will be held accountable."
As a result of its findings, OSHA has ordered The Port Authority to pay $1,000 in punitive damages and to take corrective actions, including expunging disciplinary actions and references to them from various records as well as compensating the worker for attorneys' fees. The railroad must also post and provide its employees with information on their FRSA whistleblower rights.
PATH and the complainant have 30 days from receipt of the findings to file an appeal with the Labor Department's Office of Administrative Law Judges. Under FRSA, employees of a railroad carrier and its contractors and subcontractors are protected against retaliation for reporting on-the-job injuries as well as reporting certain safety and security violations and cooperating with investigations by OSHA and other regulatory agencies.
OSHA also enforces statutes protecting employees who report violations of various securities, trucking, airline, nuclear power, pipeline, environmental, public transportation and consumer product safety laws. Detailed information is available online at http://www.whistleblowers.gov/index.html.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to assure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, outreach, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
Note: The Labor Department does not release names of employees involved in whistleblower complaints.
U.S. Department of Labor releases are accessible on the Internet at www.dol.gov. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format (large print, Braille, audiotape or disc) from the COAST office upon request. Please specify which news release when placing your request at 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755. The Labor Department is committed to providing America's employers and employees with easy access to understandable information on how to comply with its laws and regulations. For more information, please visit www.dol.gov/compliance.