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March 15, 2013
Norfolk Southern must pay $1M to safety whistleblowers

The Labor Department has ordered Norfolk Southern Railway Co. to pay $1.2 million to three workers who reported workplace injuries and were fired as a result.

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In addition to monetary penalties, the railroad must remove the disciplinary action from the workers’ files, post a notice regarding whistleblower rights, and train workers on those rights.

Railroads are subject to the Federal Railroad Safety Act. OSHA administers whistleblower protections under that law and a number of others.

One Norfolk Southern crane operator was fired after reporting an eye injury that required the extraction of a sliver of metal from his eye. Two others (including one who had worked for the railroad for 36 years) were let go when they reported injuries resulting from a truck accident.

Acting Secretary of Labor Seth D. Harris commented, “When workers can’t report safety concerns on the job without fear of retaliation, worker safety and health suffer, which costs working families and businesses alike.”

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