OSHA: BNSF Railway retaliated against employee for reporting work-related injury, must pay him $30,000

Source: Bismark Tribune
By Andrew Sheeler

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration ordered Burlington Northern Santa Fe LLC. to pay more than $30,000 in back wages and damages to a Mandan man after it found that the company retaliated against the man for reporting a work-related injury, the U.S. Department of Labor reported.
The Wednesday ruling also called for BNSF to take other corrective actions, such as restoring the man’s benefits and seniority in the company and paying his legal fees.
OSHA learned of the man’s case when the man filed a whistleblower complaint alleging that his rights had been violated under the Federal Railroad Safety Act.
An OSHA investigation “determined the work-related injury reporting and subsequent treatment plan were contributing factors in terminating the employee, thus violated the law, according to the Department of Labor report.
In a prepared statement, Denver-based OSHA Regional Administrator Gregory Baxter wrote that “BNSF failed to prove that its personnel actions were anything other than retaliation.”
The agency maintains a website — www.whistleblowers.gov — where employees can report violations by their employers.
Following the decision, BNSF has up to 30 days to file an objection or request a hearing before an Office of Administrative Law judge.
Amy McBeth, a BNSF spokeswoman, wrote in an email that “we are evaluating the determination and will respond accordingly through the process.”
Reach reporter Andrew Sheeler at 701-250-8225 or andrew.sheeler@bismarcktribune.com.