Accidents in the workplace can be tragic, especially when they could have been prevented. Texas employees who have seen an accident take place that was caused by unsafe practices may wish to report it to bring the situation to light so that it never happens again. Such acts are not always rewarded, and the workers may face retaliation from their employers for speaking up about the incident.
A railroad conductor in another state claims he lost his job after he witnessed a horrific accident. The plaintiff was told to monitor the tracks so that the employees who were doing work on overhead wires would not be hurt by oncoming trains. Two other workers were supposed to be watching out for the crew as well, but they allegedly did not warn a co-worker that one of the wires had become electrified. Sadly, because the co-worker had apparently gotten too close to the wire, he was electrocuted and died.
The plaintiff claims he witnessed the tragedy and was instructed by a member of the NJ Transit Employee Assistant Program to take time away from work. The evaluator allegedly said the plaintiff was unfit to work after the event. His time off was reported to the Federal Railroad Administration.
After the plaintiff took time off, the general superintendent allegedly suspended him for a year without pay for not complying with safety practices, which in turn, caused the accident. The plaintiff believes that this was an act of retaliation for blowing the whistle on the accident. OSHA ruled that what happened was an act of retaliation, but the NJ transit appealed -- ultimately both parties decided to settle, and the plaintiff was awarded $699,000. It is illegal for Texas workers to be retaliated against for standing up against unsafe practices. Those who have been victimized may choose to file claims against their employers to right the injustices against them.
Source: nj.com, "NJ Transit pays conductor $700k to settle whistleblower suit", Larry Higgs, April 23, 2015