Railroads are losing their campaign to gut the Federal Rail Safety Act by claiming that the Railway Labor Act precludes rail workers from invoking FRSA protection. In a resounding well-reasoned decision, Administrative Law Judge Richard A. Morgan explains that Congress enacted the FRSA "to allow employees to attempt to vindicate their rights using multiple means" and that the FRSA "clearly dictates that an employee is not precluded from pursuing both his RLA appeal to arbitration and his FRSA whistleblower protection complaint." For the full text of Newman v. Union Railroad, click here (PDF).
So the RLA does not preempt the FRSA. Ever. The two statutes simply run on separate tracks. In the words of Judge Morgan, employees are "not precluded from appealing their RLA discipline pursuant to the collective bargaining agreement while simultaneously litigating against the railroad through the FRSA." Kudos to Attorney Daniel J. Cohen and his client Charles Newman for adding another nail to the coffin of rail managment’s bogus "election of remedies" defense. For more background on this issue, click here.