CSX Transportation Inc. retaliated against an employee at its Selkirk, N.Y. facility who reported safety concerns to management.
The employee, who was a union official, on Sept. 6, 2013, gave the plant superintendent a letter detailing alleged safety hazards and violations of the Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA). In the letter, the employee also expressed the union’s intent to withdraw its support of the plant’s safety committee, OSHA said.
On Dec. 18, 2013, management issued the employee a five-day suspension for an alleged safety violation. The employee on March 18, 2014, filed a complaint with OSHA.
OSHA found the company had acted in violation of the FRSA’s anti-retaliation language and ordered the rail carrier to pay punitive damages and attorney's fees to the worker and to take corrective action.
"While CSX subsequently reversed the suspension, it was an adverse action that never should have happened in the first place. This worker was clearly doing his duty, alerting management to employees' safety concerns. The company's retaliation needlessly cost him time, money and distress," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York.
"As part of our findings, and in an effort to stop future violations, we are ordering CSX to have its Selkirk managers submit to training about the law and the rights it provides to their employees."
OSHA ordered CSX to:
- Pay the employee $27,735 in attorney's fees and $5,000 in punitive damages.
- Expunge the employee's employment records of his suspension and his exercise of his FRSA rights.
- Not retaliate or discriminate against the employee in any manner for his FRSA-related actions.
- Have all managers at CSX's Selkirk facility receive OSHA-provided training on FRSA and the rights it provides their employees.
- Train all new hires on FRSA and employee rights.
- Immediately post in the workplace and electronically a notice to employees of their FRSA rights.
"CSX has an established policy that is widely communicated in our company that we do not tolerate harassment in any form. CSX is aware of this decision and we are reviewing it to determine what our next steps might be," Rob Doolittle, spokesperson for CSX, said in an email.