Norfolk Southern Railway is learning the hard way that retaliation doesn’t pay. Despite earlier warnings, it has continued its abusive course of conduct toward employees who report injuries. And so today OSHA issued a Press Release confirming record breaking punitive damage awards in three Federal Rail Safety Act cases: $200,000 + $175,000 + $150,000 = $525,000 in punitive damages alone, not including lost wages and attorney’s fees for awards totaling over $800,000.
With these awards, OSHA has made it clear Norfolk Southern’s pattern of filing bogus "false and conflicting statement" charges against injured workers will not be tolerated. In the words of Dr. David Michaels, the Head of OSHA:
Firing workers for reporting an injury is not only illegal, it also endangers all workers. When workers are discouraged from reporting injuries, no investigation into the cause of an injury can occur. To prevent more injuries, railroad workers must be able to report an injury without fear of retaliation. The Labor Department will continue to protect all railroad employees from retaliation for exercising these basic worker rights. Employers found in violation will be held accountable.
And the best news is, if Norfolk Southern doesn’t pay these OSHA awards and reflexively appeals, we now know how juries react toward such unsafe abusive conduct by railroads: with visceral disgust and revulsion that produces even higher punitive damage and emotional distress awards.Click here for details of the first FRSA jury verdict.