Did you know that rail workers who refuse to violate the Hours of Service Act are protected by Section 20109 of the FRSA? The Norfolk Southern Railway just found out the hard way.
In Lancaster v. Norfolk Southern Railway Company, the NS required a locomotive engineer to continued writing a statement beyond the time he outlawed. When he refused to violate the HSA by continuing to write the statement beyond his HSA deadline, his NS managers accused him of insubordination and suspended him without pay for 40 days.
The Judge held that is a violation of the FRSA. Noting “The Hours of Service Act was enacted to protect train crews and the public from the life-threatening risks posed by crew fatigue,” the Judge found the NS managers put their demand “for written statements ahead of their duty to obey and enforce a federal statute designed to keep railroads safe” and in so doing intentionally violated the FRSA.
The Judge awarded damages for back pay and emotional distress, as well as punitive damages due to NS’s reckless indifference to the right of its employees to comply with the HSA and its callous disregard of the safety considerations protected by the HSA. Here is the full Lancaster Decision. For more on the rights of rail employees under the FRSA, go to the free Rail Whistleblower Library.