OSHA has blown the whistle on Norfolk Southern Railway Company’s practice of disciplining injured workers based on bogus “falsification” charges. From now on, Norfolk Southern’s “falsification” strategy will cost it dearly.
In order to discourage the reporting of injuries, Norfolk Southern routinely charges injured employees with “falsifying” the injury. That is what happened to Conductor Jeff Thompson. After he reported an injury, he was accused of falsifying his symptoms and was suspended for six weeks. A RLA arbitrator ordered Norfolk Southern to pay all of his back wages, and now OSHA is ordering the Railroad to pay $15,000 for his emotional distress and another $15,000 in attorney fees.
This Award is noteworthy because (1) it lays the groundwork for punitive damages against Norfolk Southern for such egregious conduct, and (2) it confirms that a RLA award of back wages does not prevent OSHA from ordering the full spectrum of Federal Rail Safety Act economic and equitable remedies. Here is the full text of the OSHA Award.