The opportunities for railroad supervisors to harass injured workers just keeps getting smaller and smaller. The Federal Railroad Administration has now put a stop to the practice of railroad supervisors accompanying injured employees into medical exam rooms. The FRA issued a Notice of Interpretation declaring it to be a violation of federal regulations for a supervisor to be in a medical exam room with an injured employee (the only exception being if the worker is unconscious or has freely invited the supervisor in). FRA Notice
The FRA requires every railroad to adopt an Internal Control Plan confirming that any harassment or intimidation which discourages employees from reporting injuries will not be tolerated. 49 CFR 225.33(a). Despite that requirement, the FRA Guide for Preparing Accident Reports acknowledges that many railroad supervisors engage in practices that circumvent the reporting of injuries, including harassing and disciplining employees who report injuries. Go to FRA Guide p.8
One of the ways supervisors try to make an injury non-reportable is to go into the medical exam room where they can pressure the employee or influence the extent of medical treatment. Those days are over. Now, it is a patent violation of FRA anti-harassment regulations “when a railroad supervisor accompanies an injured employee into an examination room.” And that is on top of the protection given by the Federal Railroad Safety Act, which prohibits supervisors from interfering with the medical treatment of injured employees. 49 USC 20109
So employees and union reps, now hear this: when supervisors want to go into the examining room, bar the door! And if a supervisor barges in anyway, file a complaint with the FRA for a violation of 49 CFR 225.33(a) and then file a complaint with OSHA’s Whistleblower Office for violation of the FRSA, 49 UCS 20109(a)(4) and (c). Under these new railroad laws, the fines, penalties, attorney’s fees, and even punitive damages that result will put a stop to that particular form of railroad intimidation.