Federal Law Protects Railroad Workers From Retaliation For Reporting Injuries

The entire body of Pennsylvania law that applies to workers’ compensation, including the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, is vast and complex. Experienced legal counsel can make a difference for applicants when filing a claim under Commonwealth law. Powell Law’s unsurpassed qualifications make it an obvious choice for representation in workers’ compensation cases in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and surrounding areas.

Federal law protects railroad workers from the retaliatory actions of a railroad employer intended to discourage or prevent an injured worker from reporting an accident or receiving proper medical treatment for injuries suffered in the workplace. The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 225 states that a railroad:

  • may not harass or intimidate an employee in a manner designed to discourage or prevent such employee from receiving proper medical treatment or from reporting an accident, incident or injury.
  • may not refuse to furnish the injured worker with an injury report form.
  • may not tell an injured employee that he will be disciplined or investigated if an injury report is filed.
  • may not discipline an employee if the railroad interfered with the employee’s ability to make prompt report of the injury.

As a response to increasing concerns about the harassment and intimidation of railroad workers, on January 1, 1997, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) issued regulations to protect railroad workers. Since then, these regulations have been updated as necessary and currently make it a violation of Federal Law for a railroad to: “discharge, discriminate, demote, suspend, reprimand, or in any way discriminate, in whole or in part, against an employee that notifies or attempts to notify the railroad of a work-related personal injury or illness.” 49 U.S.C. § 20109 (a)(4).

These regulations require railroads to adopt a detailed Internal Control Plan (ICP) which specifically prohibits the carrier from threatening or harassing its employees. The foundation of the ICP is a statement in clear and unmistakable language that provides “Harassment or intimidation of any person that is calculated to discourage or prevent such person from receiving proper medical treatment or from reporting an accident, incident, injury or illness will not be permitted or tolerated and will result in disciplinary action against such person committing the harassment or intimidation.”

Railroad employers must provide all railroad employees with a copy of the ICP. If an employee complains about a violation of the anti-harassment policy, she must be afforded “whistleblower” protection. Any form of harassment and intimidation is illegal under federal law and any offending party, including managers and supervisors, may be fined up to $5,000.00 for harassment or failing to accurately report accidents. If the railroad violates any of the aforementioned valuable rights, railroad workers have the right to file a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Applicants for workers’ compensation benefits require the assistance of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. Contact Powell Law at (570) 961-0777. The consultation is FREE and you don’t pay unless we win!

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