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Railroad worker awarded around $85,000 from Union Pacific

When a worker in Illinois experiences an on-the-job injury, they are generally offered certain rights and protections in order to ensure their job security upon reporting the injury or making a worker's compensation claim in relation to it. These protective laws are aimed at creating an environment in which employees can be unafraid to make workplace injury claims and worker's compensation claims, especially when the injuries resulted from unsafe working conditions that the employer failed to keep up-to-code.

However, despite these mandates, employers still sometimes take improper retaliatory action against their employees, such as firing them, for submitting an injury report or a workers' compensation claim.

Recently, this type of occurrence has been alleged to have happened to a Union Pacific Railroad worker in another state. The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), conducted an investigation of the situation and found that Union Pacific was allegedly violating the Federal Railroad Safety Act's whistleblower provisions which state that railroad companies may not terminate the employment of a worker for reporting an on-the-job injury.

Purportedly, the worker was injured while sitting in a defective chair provided by the company. The chair collapsed, taking the man down with it and leaving him with a back injury. According to OSHA's investigation, after the man filed his injury report and cited the chair's collapse in his write-up of the incident, the company retaliated by terminating the worker's employment.

OSHA ordered that Union Pacific pay $10,000 in compensatory awards, $75,000 for punitive damages and also pay for all reasonable legal fees. Additionally, Union Pacific must strike all punitive information from the employee's work history record and provide further information regarding whistleblower protections to its employees.

After you suffer an on-the-job injury, you should be able to file a report without fear. An employer's duty to their workers is to provide a safe working environment free of workplace dangers and to offer proper training and ongoing safety education to its employees.

If you believe that you have been the victim of unfair treatment from your employer after filing a report regarding a workplace injury, then the

Source: NTV, "Union Pacific Ordered to Pay Injured Worker," Megan Johnson, April 23, 2014

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