Over the years, there have been many employees who have found themselves being terminated by their employer or retaliated against in some way for doing what they felt was the right thing. In some cases, the right thing was reporting their employer for committing illegal acts or simply bringing to their attention any hazards in the workplace.
A Seattle whistleblower recently found himself in court after his employer terminated him for reporting unsafe conditions he noticed on railroad tracks that ran from Vancouver to Tacoma. These unsafe conditions included malfunctions of signals and a blockage of the signal system by overgrown vegetation. This created a hazard because this signal system prevents collisions from occurring between trains. When his company failed to address these issues, the Federal Railroad Administration was where he took his complaint to next. Following this complaint, the FRA investigated and the railroad company was fined $1,000 after more than 350 violations were uncovered.
The worker was later harassed by a co-worker and found himself being terminated because of a physical altercation that occurred on the employer’s grounds. The company later terminated the worker for the second time because he failed to disclose information about a prior conviction. When the case went to court, the jury found that these reasons were false and that the man was terminated because of him reporting his employer. As a result, the whistleblower was awarded $1.25 million.
Employees wanting to keep the workplace safe and hazard-free is a good thing and employers should not retaliate because of this. Anyone who has found that they have been retaliated against by their employer may want to speak to an employment rights attorney. With this type of behavior being illegal, employees may have a case and could possibly receive compensation for their troubles.
Source: The Seattle Times, “Railroad whistle-blower awarded $1.25M,” Mike Carter, July 1, 2015