Retaliation for Employee Honesty

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The Metro-North Railroad has a history of safety inadequacies, involving both customers and employees. The company has been commanded, by the U.S. Labor Department, to pay more than $250,000 to an employee who was retaliated against for reporting an injury while on the job.

Steven Annucci injured his leg in 2011 and while en-route to the hospital, a Metro-North Supervisor encouraged him not to report the incident.  The supervisor claimed that employees who get hurt on the job are written up and are not considered for future promotions, citing a female worker who, after injuring her foot while working, came in on crutches to keep her record clean. Another past employee hurt her hand, but kept quiet in fear of retaliation.

In spite of the warnings, Annucci chose to report his injury.  Although a company should allow its employees the freedom to articulate safety issues, the railroad issued disciplinary charges against him.

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration, or OSHA, said that the reparations–$250,000 in punitive damages on top of $10,000 in compensatory damages–were the highest ever in a Federal Railroad Safety retaliation case. It is difficult for a company to fix, prevent, or resolve any safety concerns without input from its own workforce “when employees, fearing retaliation, hesitate to report work-related injuries and the safety hazards that caused them”, an OSHA administrator stated.

Posted December 30, 2014

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