Railway Worker Receives $1.74 Million in Whistleblower Case

A Railway worker who reported his employer’s track defects and was fired has received a large settlement by the U.S. District Court for Colorado.

Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Company (BNSF) has been ordered 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.

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

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.