OSHA: Iowa Railroad Wrongly Censured Train Conductor

June 17, 2010

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has ordered the Iowa Interstate Railroad, headquartered in Cedar Rapids, to make amends for censuring a train conductor who was disciplined in reprisal for reporting a workplace injury.

OSHA said Iowa Interstate Railroad began investigating the employee in January 2009 in reprisal for reporting a work injury and retaliated against the employee by disciplining him in the form of a letter of censure. The employee filed a whistleblower complaint with OSHA, alleging that the railroad had retaliated against him for reporting his work injury. OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program conducted an investigation under the Federal Rail Safety Act (FRSA) found merit to the complaint and ordered relief.

OSHA has ordered IIR to stop automatically issuing a notice of investigation for employees who report work injuries without reasonable suspicion that a hearing will uncover evidence of a policy violation or misconduct.

IIR also has been ordered to expunge all files and computerized data systems of references to the disciplinary hearing involving the employee, as well as those of references related to the letter of censure.

The railroad also must pay the employee $1,000 in punitive damages, to post and provide its employees with information on their FRSA whistleblower rights and within 30 days inform the OSHA regional administrator in writing of the steps it has taken to comply with the above order.

IIR and the complainant have 30 days from receipt of the findings to file an appeal with the Labor Department’s Office of Administrative Law Judges.

Source: OSHA

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