The US Labor Department levied a $250,000 fine against New York-based Metro-North Railroad after it retaliated against an injured railroad worker. The Labor Department ordered Metro North to pay the punitive damages award to a train coach cleaner who hurt his leg on the job in November 2011 in Connecticut.
The federal government stated that a Metro North supervisor told the injured worker that management would file disciplinary charges and deny promotions to anyone who reported being hurt at work.
The $250,000 fine is the biggest that has ever been awarded for punitive damages for retaliation in the history of the Federal Railroad Safety Act. The railroad also must pay $10,000 to pay for the worker’s attorney costs.
During the case, the Labor Department cited other instances where the railroad apparently threatened to retaliate against injured workers. One case involved a woman who crushed her foot with a barrel. Rather than file an injury report, the hobbled woman came to work on crutches.
We are railroad injury attorneys in Virginia who have seen railroads routinely attempt to deny claims for on the job injuries. We have to say however, that the above attempt at retaliation against an injured worker on the job truly is a new low. We are glad that the Labor Department assessed such a large punitive award; hopefully it will warn other railroads to not attempt to intimidate injured workers!
A recent injured railroad worker case in Virginia we handled involved a railroad conductor who suffered a serious back injury after he fell due to an insecure ladder on a train car. Of course, the railroad denied responsibility, but we were able to show that the handhold on the ladder was insecure and that this was a regulatory violation. We also brought in a top notch railroad safety expert, who pointed out the specific regulations that had been violated. In the end, we were pleased with the $825,000 settlement in favor of our injured client.