December 28, 2016
DENVER – An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has found that BNSF Railway Company violated federal law when it terminated a track inspector for insubordination after the employee reported railroad track defects to management.
OSHA has ordered BNSF to pay more than $147,000 in back wages and damages and take other corrective actions. Agency investigators determined the company retaliated against the former employee in violation of the Federal Railroad Safety Act. A Berkshire Hathaway company, BNSF is an international railroad operator headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas. It employs more than 42,000 employees.
“BNSF employees have the right to protect their safety and that of other employees and the public without fear of retaliation by their employer,” said Gregory Baxter, regional OSHA administrator in Denver. “Our investigation and our actions on this worker’s behalf underscores the agency’s commitment to take vigorous action to protect workers’ rights.”
The company and the former employee may file objections or request a hearing, within 30 days of receipt of the agency’s order, before the department’s Office of Administrative Law Judges.
OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of the CPSIA and 21 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of various airline, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health care reform, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime and securities laws.
Employees who believe that they have been retaliated against for engaging in protected conduct may file a complaint with the secretary of labor. More information is available online at http://www.whistleblowers.gov/index.html.