OSHA has ordered a railroad company to pay $30,000 in back wages and damages for allegedly retaliating against an employee who reported a work-related injury and submitted a physician's treatment plan.
Texas-based Burlington Northern Santa Fe, LLC was accused of illegally firing an employee from North Dakota in December 2013. The dismissal prompted the former employee to submit a whistleblower complaint to OSHA alleging violations of the anti-retaliation provisions of the Federal Railroad Safety Act, OSHA said in a news release Oct. 1. Agency investigators subsequently determined the work-related injury reporting and subsequent treatment plan were contributing factors in terminating the employee, who was not identified.
"Reporting an injury and a subsequent treatment plan ordered by a physician - regardless of an employer's policy or deadline - is protected activity by law," said Gregory Baxter, OSHA's regional administrator in Denver. "BNSF failed to prove that its personnel actions were anything other than retaliation."
OSHA ordered BNSF to reinstate the worker at the same or an equivalent job, restore seniority and benefits, and pay $6,000 in compensatory damages, plus attorney's fees.
The company has 30 days to file objections or appeal the OSHA order before an administrative law judge.