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Norfolk Southern Corp. Ordered to Pay Damages to NC Man for Workplace Injuries

A federal agency has ordered Norfolk Southern Corp. to pay more $122,000 in compensatory and punitive damages and attorney's fees as a result of showing reckless disregard for a former employee's rights under the Federal Railroad Safety Act. According to the Virginian-Pilot, the man was injured in 2009 while doing tack maintenance in Jamestown, North Carolina (NC). He initially kept the incident to himself because he feared adverse actions, but he did file a report when he agravated the injury while doing more track work.

When the employee reported the injuries, NS supervisors accused him of making false statements and fired him on those -- as it proved -- spurious grounds. The worker then complained to the Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the agency determined the railroad violated his rights under the whistleblower provisions of the FRSA. The act provides every railroad worker the right to report an injury without fear of retaliation or intimidation. This relatively new law is intended to prevent the abusive practice of big railroads of threatening the jobs of workers who report accidents. Such intimidation tactics include holding lengthy investigations whose real purpose is to find evidence the company can use to fire an employee who points out safety problems.

According to OSHA, Norfolk Southern maintained an appearance of having an exemplary safety record and won a record 22 straight E.H. Harriman Gold Medal Rail Safety Awards for ebing the nation's largest line-haul railroad with the lowest number of reportable on-the-job injuries and death, in part, by retaliating against and intimidating employees. Punitive damages awarded to the former employee totaled $75,000. FRSA authorize punitive damages up to $250,000, and OSHA has awarded punitive damages of $75,000 or more in 13 cases since 2008.

An injured railroad worker should hold the negligent employer responsible for workplace injuries with the assistance of North Carolina FELA  accident lawyers. If railroad officials try to harm your career just for getting hurt, you have rights and should report the threats to OSHA through a lawyer who knows the federal railroad law. Note you only have 6 months from the adverse action to make the claim, far less than the 3 years to sue for the FELA injury case itself.

To learn more about the recoveries you or a loved one can receive from a railroad work accident that results in serious injuries, check out our case results in such lawsuits.


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