Alabama FRSA Railroad Whistleblower Attorneys
Railroad workers are exposed to numerous safety hazards on a regular basis. These hazards result in countless injuries to industry workers each year, many of which are caused by the illegal conduct of the employer. Those who suffer physical injuries because of safety violations in a railroad work environment are not the only ones at risk, however. Workers who report safety concerns might also suffer various forms of harm in the form of retaliatory actions that are also illegal.
The Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA) is a law that gives industry workers the right to bring attention to the safety problems within a railroad worksite without the fear of retaliation. Under the FRSA’s whistleblower protection provision, an industry employer is not allowed to punish employees who warn or raise concerns about safety issues. Employees who have been the subject of various retaliatory actions (because of their willingness to bring attention to workplace safety problems) may be entitled to a number of different forms of legal relief.
If you or someone close to you has suffered because of illegal railroad employer actions under the FRSA, it is very important to act quickly in order to meet tight deadlines for filing a complaint. FRSA complaints also involve specific procedures and processes that not all personal injury firms will be familiar with. For this reason, you must ensure that the firm you work with has extensive experience with these types of cases.
For FRSA railroad whistleblower claims in Alabama, contact Burge & Burge for immediate assistance. Our lawyers have successfully represented numerous railroad employees who have suffered retaliation for engaging in activities that are protected by the Federal Rail Safety Act. We understand the complexities involved with FRSA claims, and we know what it takes to overcome the common challenges needed to secure maximum compensation for our clients.
FRSA Protected Activities
In 2007, the Federal Rail Safety Act was amended by Section 1521 of the 9/11 Act. This amendment expanded the scope of protected activities under the FRSA for railroad employees who blow the whistle on employers that engage in unsafe practices. Protected activity under the FRSA now includes:
- Reporting a work-related injury or illness.
- Reporting a work-related injury or illness that is suffered by a coworker.
- Receiving medical treatment for a work-related injury or illness, including but not limited to following a doctor’s order not to return to work.
- Reporting a hazardous safety or security condition to the railroad company and/or an outside government agency.
- Refusal to work under hazardous safety or security conditions.
- Refusal to utilize/work with any equipment or machinery that is hazardous.
- Providing information and/or assisting in an investigation regarding conduct on the part of the railroad company that the employee reasonably believes to be unsafe and/or illegal.
- Cooperating with a safety or security investigation being conducted by an outside government agency.
- Filing an employee protection complaint under the FRSA.
- An employer’s perception that the employee has engaged in any of the FRSA protected activities.
The Federal Rail Safety Act prohibits industry employers from taking any actions against a whistleblower that might negatively affect the terms, conditions, and privileges of their employment. Examples of adverse actions that a railroad company is not allowed to take against an employee for protected activities include:
- Salary reduction
- Increased scrutiny by management
- Being subjected to different standards than other employees in the same position
- Failure to hire
Essentially, any act on the part of an employer to terminate the employee or create a hostile work environment for them because of their whistleblowing activity might constitute a violation of the FRSA. This is particularly true if the employer’s retaliatory actions would tend to dissuade a reasonable person from continuing to engage in the protected activity.
Filing an FRSA Claim
Whistleblowers who believe they have had their legal rights violated under the FRSA may file a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). From there, the case may end up in front of an Administrative Review Board (ARB).
Railroad employees must prove their FRSA claim by a “preponderance of the evidence”, which essentially means there is more evidence supporting their claim than there is against it. The basic elements that will need to be proven include:
- The railroad employee engaged in a protected activity under the FRSA.
- The employee was subjected to some type of retaliatory action by their employer.
- Those who instituted retaliatory actions knew or should have reasonably known about the employee’s protected activity.
- The employee’s protected activity was a contributing factor in the employer’s adverse actions.
Some of the evidence that might help prove an FRSA claim may include:
- A small amount of time between the protected activity and the employer’s adverse actions.
- Disparate treatment of the employee by their manager/supervisor.
- An abrupt change in the employee’s duties after engaging in the protected activity.
- A generally hostile attitude toward the whistleblower employee.
- A significant drop in the employee’s work performance rating after the employer became aware that the employee was a whistleblower.
Important Note: Whistleblowers have only 180 days from the date when the employee knew (or should have reasonably known) that the railroad had taken adverse actions against them in which to file an FRSA complaint. This means you have basically six months to take legal action, so do not put off contacting us if you believe you have a legitimate claim.
Legal Remedies Available Under the FRSA
There are several forms of legal relief that an FRSA whistleblower can obtain, such as:
- Reinstatement of employment.
- Unimpaired reinstatement of all of your seniority and benefits.
- Reversal and expungement of any disciplinary actions taken against you.
- Payment of back wages including interest.
- Payment for all of your economic losses.
- Compensation for emotional distress damages.
- Reimbursement for your attorney’s fees and other legal costs.
- Punitive damages up to $250,000.
Contact Our Skilled and Knowledgeable Alabama FRSA Whistleblower Attorneys Today
To get started with your FRSA whistleblower claim, call our office today at 205-251-9000 or message us online for a free consultation and case assessment. We will meet with you to thoroughly evaluate your case and advise you of your legal rights and options.