Employer may not retaliate against employees who report Massachusetts work injuries

The hammer was recently brought down on Metro North Commuter Railroad Co. following a whistleblower investigation from one of the company’s Connecticut employees.

Our Boston work injury attorneys want to remind you there are laws to protect you if you have been injured at work or treated unfairly. Employees who report dangerous conditions in the workplace may not be retaliated against by an employer.
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration recently concluded their investigation of the whistleblower complaint towards Metro North Commuter Railroad Co. The whistleblower complaint, filed by one of their Connecticut employees, claimed the railroad company retaliated after an employee filed an injury complaint. The employee had filed a whistleblower complaint to OSHA in November 2008 as a result of a work injury he had suffered. When the railroad company discovered the whistleblower they retaliated against the employee by enforcing disciplinary action against him, according to the allegations.

Following investigation into the complaint, OSHA has determined Metro North will pay the employee $75,000 in punitive damages, as well as $5,500 in attorney fees. Metro North will also be required to remove disciplinary actions and unsatisfactory notes placed in the employer’s permanent record. Lastly, the railroad company must provide its employees with information regarding filing complaints about on-the-job injuries and whistleblower rights.

“Taking repeated disciplinary action against an employee who exercised his legal right to report an on-the-job injury and voiced a complaint about retaliatory treatment by his employer is unconscionable,” said Marthe Kent, OSHA’s New England regional administrator, located in Boston. “Such treatment instills a culture of silence in which hazardous conditions are masked because employees will be fearful of reporting them.”

OSHA enacted the Whistleblower Protection Program to protect employees who were afraid to lodge a complaint for fear of their employer disciplining them. Like in the case of the Metro North railroad employee, workers have rights and shouldn’t be afraid to voice a legitimate complaint. Under the program, the employee must show the violation of rights, that the employer knew about the violation, and that some form of retaliation ensued as a result of the complaint.

The following are unacceptable forms of retaliation by the employer:
-Blacklisting or demoting the employee to a lower paying job.
-Terrorizing or intimidate the employee with threats.
-Letting the employee go without other provocation.
-Minimizing the employee hours or reducing the hourly wage.
-Punishing the employee with undesirable tasks.
-Reassigning duties to prevent moving up in the company.

If you have been injured on the job in Boston or the surrounding area, contact Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Attorney Jeffrey S. Glassman to discuss your rights. Call for a free consultation at 877-617-5333.

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