While the Union Pacific Railroad Company often claims that it encourages employees to report potential worksite safety hazards, evidence suggests otherwise. In fact, the Department of Labor has taken legal action against Union Pacific and ordered them to pay substantial damages to employees who were retaliated against for informing the company of safety issues through supposedly safe and proper channels. If you have suffered unfair consequences at work after reporting safety concerns at Union Pacific, help is available from a dedicated railroad lawyer with years of experience helping workers like you through similar situations. Depending on the nature of the retaliation against you, you may have grounds to recover not only for missed wages, but also compensatory damages for various harms that Union Pacific’s unjust actions may have caused you.
Federal Protections for Union Pacific Whistleblowers
The Federal Railroad Safety Act enshrines into federal law several rights for railroad workers who find themselves facing unsafe and/or unlawful conditions at work. Workers have the right to report unsafe conditions to their employers, refuse to work under foreseeably unsafe conditions, and assist with any ensuing investigation by a qualified state or federal agency without fear of retaliation from their employer. FRSA also protects workers who report violations of federal law committed by their employers in the same way.
Furthermore, FRSA prohibits employers from taking any action which has a negative effect on a worker’s employment in response to that worker exercising any of the aforementioned rights. This means that unlawful retaliation can entail not just termination, but alternatively:
- A loss of privileges or responsibilities at work
- Demotion or denial of advancement opportunities
- Reduction in compensation
- Harassment at work
- Failure to hire the worker in the first place
Anyone who reports safety concerns at Union Pacific and subsequently faces negative repercussions from the company may have grounds to file suit under FRSA. A qualified attorney could review a particular situation during a private initial meeting and offer guidance about what legal action might be possible.
What Damages Could Be Compensable?
Through a successful lawsuit, a worker who suffers retaliation from Union Pacific for reporting safety conditions could possibly hold the company liable for all work income they missed out on as a result of that retaliation, potentially including interest on backpay. Reimbursement for attorney’s fees is also generally incorporated into successful claims.
In some situations, Union Pacific may bear liability for compensatory damages meant to reimburse a plaintiff for specific economic or non-economic losses they experienced due to unlawful retaliation. Finally, egregious misconduct may result in a court imposing punitive damages against Union Pacific expressly to discourage them from engaging in similar behavior with other workers.
How to Address Retaliation for Reporting Union Pacific Railroad Safety Concerns
Whether you are formally employed by Union Pacific or working as a contractor for them, you have a right to insist on safe working conditions and report unsafe conditions to appropriate authorities. Any action taken by Union Pacific which infringes upon this right could justify a claim against them which, if successful, could allow for substantial financial recovery.
If you were retaliated against for reporting safety concerns at Union Pacific Railroad, you should contact legal counsel and learn more about your rights. Schedule your initial consultation by calling today.