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Monday, March 04, 2013
NS disputes OSHA's ruling on whistleblower violations
Last week, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced it ordered Norfolk Southern Railway to pay three former workers $1.12 million for violating whistleblower provisions of the federal Railroad Safety Act.
Two OSHA investigations found that a crane operator, thermite welder and welder's helper were wrongfully fired for reporting workplace injuries. In addition to providing the monetary remedies, NS must expunge the workers' disciplinary records, post a notice regarding employees' whistleblower protection rights under the safety act and train workers on the rights, OSHA officials said in a press release.
"The Labor Department continues to find serious whistleblower violations at Norfolk Southern, and we will be steadfast in our defense of a worker's right to a safe job — including his or her right to report injuries," said acting Secretary of Labor Seth Harris.
However, NS officials disagree with OSHA's ruling and plan to appeal the decision to an administrative law judge. The decision is "the result of a flawed, one-sided procedure in which the railroad was not permitted to question the employees under oath or cross examine witnesses," NS officials said in an emailed statement.
NS officials also were "disappointed and surprised" by OSHA's findings since the agency had earlier encouraged the parties to reach voluntary resolutions, they said.
"OSHA was aware that the parties had exchanged settlement offers and demands, and were in the midst of discussing mediation," NS officials said.
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