Sept. 11, 2014
Chicago Central and Pacific Railroad ordered to pay $2K
to Iowa conductor disciplined for taking doctor-ordered leave
FORT DODGE, Iowa - Canadian National Railway, doing business as Chicago Central and Pacific Railroad, has been found in violation of the Federal Railroad Safety Act by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration for disciplining an employee at its Fort Dodge Yard complex for taking doctor-ordered time off. The company has been ordered to pay the conductor $2,000 in compensatory damages, remove disciplinary information from the employee's personnel record and provide whistleblower rights information to its employees.
"The FRSA clearly states that it is illegal to discipline an employee for following doctor's orders," said Marcia P. Drumm, OSHA's acting regional administrator in Kansas City. "Workers should never be forced to choose between their health and disciplinary action. Whistleblower protections play an important role in keeping workers health and workplaces safe."
OSHA's investigation upheld the allegation that the railroad company disciplined the conductor, who has been employed there since 2005, for taking leave in line with a doctor's order. The employee notified the company that he was to see a doctor on Oct. 2, 2013. Following his appointment, the conductor notified a supervisor that the doctor had ordered him to stay off work for the remainder of the day due to a personal illness. The company then accused the employee of violating its attendance policy and, subsequently, issued a letter of reprimand.
Any of the parties in this case can file an appeal with the department's Office of Administrative Law Judges.
OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of the FRSA and 21 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of various airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health care reform, nuclear, pipeline, worker safety, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime and securities laws.
Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who raise various protected concerns or provide protected information to the employer or to the government. Employees who believe that they have been retaliated against for engaging in protected conduct may file a complaint with the secretary of labor to request an investigation by OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Program. Detailed information on employee whistleblower rights, including fact sheets, is available at http://www.whistleblowers.gov.
# # #
Editor's note: The U.S. Department of Labor does not release the names of employees involved in whistleblower complaints.
Release Number: 14-1693-KAN
U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The department's Reasonable Accommodation Resource Center converts departmental information and documents into alternative formats, which include Braille and large print. For alternative format requests, please contact the department at (202) 693-7828 (voice) or (800) 877-8339 (federal relay).