Release Number: 10-597-NEW (osha 10-61)
May 10, 2010
Contact: Leni Fortson
US Labor Department's OSHA finds Port Authority Trans-Hudson Corp. railroad violated whistleblower law
Company disciplined employee for following doctor's order
NEW YORK -- A whistleblower investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration found that the Port Authority Trans-Hudson Corp. violated an employee's rights when he was disciplined for exercising those rights under the Federal Railroad Safety Act.
The employee, under a doctor's order, was absent from work while recovering from an injury. The railroad brought the employee up on charges for absenteeism, and the employee ultimately was suspended. The worker filed a whistleblower complaint with OSHA alleging that the railroad suspended him for following his doctor's order not to work while recovering from the injury. OSHA's investigation, conducted under the whistleblower provisions of the FRSA, found merit to the complaint.
"Railroad employees have the statutory right to report work-related injuries and to follow the orders or treatment plan of a treating physician," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York. "Railroads who retaliate against employees for exercising their rights will be held accountable."
As a result of its findings, OSHA has ordered PATH to take corrective action, including expunging disciplinary actions and references to them from various records as well as compensating the worker for lost wages resulting from the suspension. The railroad also must 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 the 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 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/.
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 ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, 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.
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