Don’t Suffer Post-Injury Harassment Quietly

A laborer for the Metro-North Commuter Railroad injured his finger in a work-related accident. After reporting the injury to his supervisor, he was initially told not to seek medical treatment. After finally receiving treatment, he was ordered by occupational health and his own doctor not to resume his usual duties until he had healed. But railroad management disregarded the medical advice the worker obtained and ordered him back to carrying out his usual duties in spite of his restricted work status. After an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), Metro-North was ordered to pay the worker $10,000 in punitive damages, take care of his legal expenses and expunge any negative references to his injury report from their files.

Railroad carriers have been known to foster a culture of harassment and intimidation towards workers that report workplace injuries by linking managerial bonuses with the level of employee injury reports. In one case, OSHA reported that Norfolk Southern Railway Co. employed a culture of intimidation so effectively that it won a gold medal in rail safety for 22 consecutive years.

Federal law gives you the right to file a complaint with OSHA if you have suffered any form of harassment after or prior to reporting a railroad workplace injury. OSHA has far-reaching investigative powers, and can award you compensatory damages and punitive damages in such situations. Additionally, federal regulations also require each railroad carrier to adopt an internal policy of taking disciplinary action against internal harassment intended to discourage injured workers from receiving medical treatment or reporting an accident.

For a thorough review of your harassment complaint, contact a Minnesota railroad injury lawyer.

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