Two employees noted an unsafe condition at work. OSHA says their employer fired them for it and has ordered the company to pay a big financial price.
OSHA has ordered CSX Transportation Inc. to pay more than $667,000 to two employees the agency claims were fired after reporting a blue flag that signaled their train couldn’t move safely.
Blue signals show workers are on, under or between railroad rolling equipment. When they’re displayed, the equipment may not be moved, according to federal Department of Transportation rules.
The two workers were at a railyard in Waycross, GA, in November 2017 when they reported the unsafe condition.
An OSHA investigation found CSX retaliated against the workers in violation of whistleblower regulations.
OSHA says CSX pulled the two workers off their jobs and later fired them.
Penalties add up
CSX is ordered by OSHA to:
- pay the employees $667,740 plus attorney’s fees to cover back pay from the time of their removal to September 2019
- pay costs incurred by the workers, including interest on back wages, penalties on withdrawals from their 401(k)s, and compensatory and punitive damages
- restore both workers’ seniority and benefits they would have received, and
- provide retirement credit, vacation time and personal days they would have earned.
This is the third OSHA whistleblower finding in 10 months related to CSX retaliating against workers who reported safety concerns.
In July 2021, OSHA ordered CSX to pay $221,976 in back wages, interest and damages to a worker fired in New Orleans for reporting safety concerns.
In October 2020, OSHA ordered CSX to reinstate an employee and pay more than $95,000 in back wages and $75,000 in punitive damages after a worker in Rebecca, GA, reported an unsafe gate and an injury.