Off the Rails: BNSF Hit With $147K Award For Firing Track Inspector Who Noted Safety Defects

As the new year begins, a reminder that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration enforces the anti-retaliation provisions in 22 laws.

That’s alot of industries under the DOL agency’s wing. So step back and consider the implications of firing an employee who has blown the whistle on safety violations.

For BNSF Railway Company it was an expensive legal lesson.

OSHA announced on Dec. 30 that it had ordered the global railroad company, an international railroad operator headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, to pay $147,000 in back pay and damages to a track inspector it fired for insubordination after the employee reported railroad track defects to management.

“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.

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