The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has ordered Metro North Commuter Rail to pay more than $141,000 to a worker after an investigation concluded that the railroad purposely misclassified the worker’s injury and then denied him a promotion as a result.
Metro North serves commuters in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.
After the worker was hurt in July 2008, the railroad classified his injury as an off-the-job injury even though it occurred at work.
As a result, the worker had to pay his own medical expenses out-of-pocket instead of being covered by Metro North’s workers compensation insurance.
A month after the worker complained to OSHA about the misclassification, he was denied a promotion because of his injury.
Following an investigation, OSHA concluded that the railroad violated the Federal Railroad Safety Act, which protects whistle-blowing employees. It also ruled that Metro North discriminated against the worker when it used his injury record as a criterion in the decision not to promote him.
OSHA has ordered the railroad to promote the worker, pay him $125,000 in punitive damages, $5,000 in compensatory damages and $11,651 in legal and medical expenses. The railroad also must pay him the difference between his current rate of pay and that of the new position, plus interest, and correct its records to show his injury as work-related.
“The railroad’s blatant disregard for its employees’ rights and its refusal to cooperate with our investigation warrant these significant punitive damages,” said Marthe Kent, OSHA regional administrator.