The railroads are a big business in the United States. The Federal Railroad Administration estimates that railroads are an $80 billion industry that operates more than 140,000 route miles of privately owned track. Undoubtedly, the railroad network is vital to the country’s freight and shipping industries, quickly and efficiently transporting goods across the United States.
However, the railroad industry is not without its faults. Accidents and safety concerns are still prevalent in the industry. And unfortunately, some railroad employees who wish to share information of wrongdoing and save people’s lives are intimidated into silence by their powerful employers.
The New York personal injury attorneys of Hach & Rose, LLP, want to empower workers to come forward. Sharing knowledge is the key to giving railroad workers back their voice. That means highlighting the Federal Railroad Safety Act, legislation meant to protect railroad workers.
What Is the Federal Railroad Safety Act?
Passed in 1970, the Federal Railroad Safety Act, or FRSA, promotes safety in all areas of the railroad industry, from encouraging safe operations to reducing railroad-related accidents. The legislation gave regulatory rights over the industry to the Federal Railroad Administration. The organization has broad federal power to investigate and prosecute nearly all railroad issues. The FRS may also work to enact laws that control safe operating procedures, maximum weight limits of rail cars, and engineer qualifications.
Another vital function of the Federal Railroad Safety Act is that it outlines protections for railroad employees who come forward with information about dangerous or unsafe railroad practices. These protections are called whistleblower protections.
Railroad Whistleblower Protections
Provisions in the FRSA protect railroad employees if they come forward with information about their employers’ unsafe policies, procedures, or safety violations. Some circumstances in which the Federal Railroad Safety Act protections are called into play occur:
- When an employee offers information on the employer’s violations of federal law
- When an employee refuses to engage in activities that violate federal law
- When an employee reports a workplace accident, injury, or illness
- When an employee adheres to the medical orders of the physician treating them for a workplace-related injury or illness
- When an employee makes a good-faith report of hazardous or unsafe working conditions
- When an employee refuses to work in a hazardous situation or unsafe working environment
These whistleblower protections extend to employees of railroad carriers, contractors and subcontractors, and those who manufacture or repair operational equipment for railroad carriers.
What Is Retaliation?
Why do railroad workers need whistleblower protections as outlined by the Federal Railroad Safety Act? It’s because of potential retaliation from their employers. Fear keeps many railroad workers from speaking out about unsafe conditions and federal law violations in the railroad industry.
Retaliation is any adverse action an employer takes against an employee who exercises their legally protected right to voice concerns about federal violations and safety concerns. Retaliation can take many forms, including:
- Firing an employee for reporting an accident, injury, illness, or safety violation
- Blacklisting an employee so that they cannot gain employment elsewhere
- Denying overtime
- Denying promotions
- Denying benefits
- Reducing pay or hours
- Using intimidation tactics
- Using threats or bullying
- Taking unnecessary disciplinary actions
- Making employee reassignment that impacts wages or promotion prospects
- Denying medical treatment following an accident
- Delaying medical treatment following an accident
When your income and livelihood depend on maintaining a good working relationship with your employer, you are not likely to turn them in for significant policy violations for fear your employer could endanger your career. Facing job loss, wage cuts, and bullying in the workplace often prevents workers from taking a stand to protect themselves and others from the potentially devastating consequences of a railroad accident or safety hazard.
The Federal Railroad Safety Act shields workers from retaliation by giving them legal rights and protections under the law. Employers who violate the law and retaliate against employees can be in significant trouble with federal authorities.
Why You Need a Skilled New York Railroad Safety Act Lawyer
Unfortunately, proving retaliation for your actions can be challenging. Large railroad carriers have significant resources at their disposal to protect their interests. These companies and their attorneys use numerous strategic tactics to prove that an adverse action against an employee does not constitute retaliation. These entities may even attempt to prove that adverse action was necessary and justified.
Fighting back takes grit, determination, and significant legal and financial resources. At Hach & Rose, LLP, we have the experience it takes to hold railroad companies accountable for their actions. We are tenacious in protecting your legal rights and fighting to gain the compensation you deserve for your financial losses. Fighting back also means understanding how to file an FRSA complaint and managing strict legal deadlines.
A knowledgeable New York railroad attorney from Hach & Rose, LLP, can review the circumstances of your case and conduct a comprehensive investigation into the focus of your complaint and potential retaliation by your employer. An attorney can also help you through the complexities of building a solid whistleblower case and aggressively negotiate for maximum compensation on your behalf. Do not allow your employer or former employer to isolate you. You have legal options, and an attorney can help you sort through those options, working with you to find the best possible outcome for the circumstances of your case.
Contact a New York Federal Railroad Safety Act Lawyer Today
Do you believe your employer has singled you out following your report of an accident? Have you experienced retaliation for voicing your concerns over safety violations? Discuss your situation with an experienced New York Federal Railroad Safety Act Lawyer at Hach & Rose, LLP. You may be able to pursue valuable compensation for your financial losses.