As Yogi Berra would say, “It’s starting to get late early out there” for the Norfolk Southern Railway. OSHA has blown the whistle on NS’s campaign of retaliation against injured workers, and the Federal Rail Safety Act awards and punitive damages just keep piling up.
In the latest, Nelson v. Norfolk Southern Railway, OSHA’s investigation confirmed that employees “are reluctant to report an injury and/or illness, fearing that they will be targeted and eventually terminated from employment.” Which explains how NS has kept its injury rates low enough to receive “the prestigious E.H. Harriman Rail Safety Gold Medal Award for 22 consecutive years.” Only in the railroad industry could managers receive a safety medal for suppressing the reporting of injuries.
OSHA notes the “chilling effect” of NS’s “reckless disregard for the law” and points to how NS “has been cited previously by the Federal Railroad Administration for harassing and intimidating employees from reporting injuries” in violation of FRA regulations. OSHA concludes that NS’s “disregard for Complainant’s rights under FRSA warrants punitive damages” in the amount of $75,000, plus another $20,000 for emotional distress and $26,000 in attorney fees.
When it comes to railroads like the NS, all that glitters is not gold.