BNSF was fined $150,000 in punitive damages, the largest punitive damages award in the History of the new Whistleblower Laws that protect injured Railroad workers from harassment and intimidation from RR Officials for reporting injuries to their employer. BNSF was also ordered to pay $125,000 in pain and mental suffering damages to the BNSF worker, Jen Wallis, a BLET hostler from Seattle, WA who was assessed 40 points for reporting her injury and a 30 day deferred suspension for “late reporting” of the incident. BNSF must also pay attorneys fees of $22,917.50 and pay Ms. Wallis 30 days lost wages. BNSF must inform all of its employees of their rights under the Whistleblower law and agree to stop using the point system to harass injured workers who report injuries.
The BNSF “POINTS” policy, sometimes referred to as “Risk Identifier Points” under the PEPA program was cited as discriminatory in that workers who are not even at fault are assessed 40 points if the accident report is reportable to the FRA and only 5 points if the accident is not reported to the FRA.
Yaeger & Jungbauer Barristers, PLC have been the leaders in the fight against carrier harassment of employees. YJB President William Jungbauer personally testified before Congress in favor of passage of the Whistleblower legislation.