The damages for violations of the Federal Rail Safety Act just keep expanding. The latest record breaker goes against the Union Pacific Railroad: $175,000 in punitive damages and $100,000 for emotional distress, all for firing a conductor who reported a minor injury.
In addition to the immediate reinstatement, lost wages, and attorney fees ordered, this case is notable for the $100,000 in damages to compensate for the conductor’s “distress, humiliation, depression, mental anguish, lessened self esteem, anxiety and embarrassment” resulting from the RR’s actions. And also for the $175,00 in punitive damages, based on: the economic harm suffered by the employee; the fact the UP managers knew of the FRSA’s prohibition against retaliation yet went ahead and retaliated anyway; and the UP’s well established pattern of retaliation against employees who exercise their FRSA right to report work-related injuries.
So, hats off to Conductor Annen and her attorney for standing up and using the FRSA to expose the rottenness at the core of UP’s management culture. For the full text of the Annen v. UP RR Merit Finding, click here.