News & Reviews News Wire CSX must pay more than $667,000 to two workers in whistleblower incident

CSX must pay more than $667,000 to two workers in whistleblower incident

By | September 2, 2021

OSHA finding is third against railroad in 10 months

Email Newsletter

Get the newest photos, videos, stories, and more from brands. Sign-up for email today!

Occupational Safety and Health Administration logoATLANTA — CSX Transportation has been ordered to reinstate two workers at a yard in Waycross, Ga., and pay them more than $667,000 after the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration found they had been fired in retaliation for whistleblowing actions.

The two workers reported encountering a blue flag that signaled their train could not move safely, and were pulled from their job and fired, according to an OSHA press release. In addition to the payment of $667,740 — for compensatory and punitive damages, back pay, and costs incurred by the workers — CSX must pay the workers’ attorney fees, restore their seniority and benefits they would have earned, and credit toward retirement, vacation days, and personal leave days the employees would have earned.

“All workers have the right to be safe on the job, and by speaking up, these workers prevented potential harm to themselves and others,” OSHA Acting Assistant Secretary Jim Frederick said in a press release. “Employers that punish workers for speaking out against unsafe or unfair working conditions are breaking the law, and OSHA will hold them accountable.”

It is the third such OSHA finding against CSX in 10 months. In July, CSX had to pay back wages and damages to a worker in New Orleans [see “CSX must pay more than $220,000 …,” Trains News Wire, July 6, 2021]. In October 2020, a worker in Rebecca, Ga., received more than $170,000 in back page and punitive damages.

12 thoughts on “CSX must pay more than $667,000 to two workers in whistleblower incident

  1. At intermodal yards, when a train comes in and before work to unload with either a side loader or overhead crane is started, the track is locked out and blue flag protection (either a blue light) at night, or a blue flag in the day, no work around or on the cars is permitted until locked by a manager or supervisor, no exceptions.

  2. Is a million dollars just the cost of doing business?

    Instead of a million dollars, why not 20 million or 200 million dollars? Consider the chilling affect on safety and the work environment for everyone else who has to work for CSX where they fire employees for obeying the rules.

    Punitive actions taken by CSX management against its employees creates a culture…a culture that begets dangerous safety decisions.

    1. It should not be a “cost of doing business”. It should come out of the CEO’s paycheck. That might start to change that culture of punishment for obeying the rules.

  3. Missing from the article is any response by the employer or why the employees were directed to move the cars. What is the procedure for clearing a blue flag?

    1. Normally, the only person who can remove a blue flag is the person who put it in place. That’s how the safety is enforced, and it’s why more than one blue flag can be present in a particular location.

    2. And if not the employee who placed the blue flag, another in the same department. In my experience the Mechanical department deployed blue flag protection, which consists of locomotive or car department. It’s absolutely forbidden for anyone in the operating department to remove blue flags or handle switches or derails protecting the equipment or the track. The practice is for the department deploying blue flag protection to use locks on switches or derails that only that department has keys.

    3. Everything you said is correct James. On NS, we in the MW dept. had our own locks that we would use instead of a regular switch lock. No other dept. had keys to our locks.

    4. Yes, thank you. I failed to mention Maintenance of Way or Section, part of Engineering (Car & Locomotive is part of Mechanical), also use blue flag protection. For example, when their equipment is parked on a track to keep Operating or T&E away from it.

  4. If the second paragraph is stating the case accurately, the issue is not related to “whistle blowing”. Rather, it is a case of employees being fired for not violating a safety rule when ordered to do so. Blue flag rules are, and should be, cardinal rules.

    1. You’re right, and CSX should have also been fined for trying to endanger the lives of the employees working on the cars who put up that blue flag.

You must login to submit a comment