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OSHA News Release
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Region 8


February 5, 2020

Federal Court Orders Railway to Pay $696,173 for Lost Wages After
U.S. Department of Labor Finds Railway Retaliated Against Whistleblower

DENVER, CO – The U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado has ordered Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Company (BNSF) to pay $696,173 in lost back and future wages to a former employee who reported track defects, bringing the total paid to the whistleblower to more than $1.74 million.

Previously, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration(OSHA) determined that the employer violated the whistleblower protection provisions of the Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA) when it retaliated against the former employee in Denver, Colorado. OSHA issued a preliminary order with the appropriate relief provided by the statute, which was appealed to the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado.

On February 19, 2019, a jury in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado ordered BNSF to pay the employee $800,000 in emotional distress, and an additional $250,000 in punitive damages.

“Railroad employers and owners must comply with the Federal Railway Safety Act, enacted to protect railroad workers who report hazardous safety or security conditions,” said OSHA Acting Regional Administrator Rita Lucero, in Denver, Colorado.

OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Program enforces the whistleblower provisions of more than 20 whistleblower statutes. These statutes protect employees from retaliation for reporting violations of various workplace safety and health, airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health insurance reform, motor vehicle safety, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime and securities laws; and for engaging in other related protected activities. For more information on whistleblower protections, visit OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Programs webpage.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful l workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to help 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 https://www.osha.gov.

The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.

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Media Contacts:

Chauntra Rideaux, 972-850-4710, rideaux.chauntra.d@dol.gov
Juan J. Rodríguez, 972-850-4709, rodriguez.juan@dol.gov

Release Number: 20-155-DAL

 


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