Norfolk Southern will shell out $1.1 million to three whistleblowers

OSHA ordered the railroad company pay up for wrongful firings

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is coming down hard on Norfolk Southern Railway Co. The administration last week ordered the railroad giant to pay $1.1 million to three employees, claiming Norfolk retaliated against them after they reported injuries.

After conducting two investigations, OSHA ruled on Thursday that Norfolk violated the Federal Railroad Safety Act whistleblower regulations when it fired three employees. In one case, Norfolk fired a crane operator in Indiana after he reported that a sliver of metal landed in his eye on the job. In a second incident, a welder and a welder’s assistant reported being injured in a traffic accident, and Norfolk ultimately fired both of them.

"The company continues to retaliate against employees for reporting work-related injuries, and these actions have effectively created a chilling effect in the railroad industry," OSHA said in a statement.

Norfolk spokesperson Robin Chapman said OSHA based its decision on a  "flawed, one-sided procedure in which the railroad was not permitted to question the employees under oath or cross-examine witnesses." Chapman said the company will appeal the ruling.

Read more about this case on Thomson Reuters. And watch for more details about this story in the April issue of InsideCounsel.

For more InsideCounsel stories about whistleblower suits, see:

U.K. regulators probe Autonomy’s finances

Whistleblower in Penn State sexual abuse scandal sues school

Former SEC investigator sues the agency for wrongful termination

SEC makes first whistleblower payment under Dodd-Frank program

Contributing Author

Cathleen Flahardy

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