When railroad workers become injured on the job, it is not uncommon for them to avoid reporting injuries out of fear that their employer will retaliate. Injured railroad employees should not be forced to sit quietly, as they are protected under federal law from employer relation following a FELA claim. If you think that you may have experienced employer retaliation after filing a FELA claim, consider reaching out to a well-versed railroad injury attorney that can help you navigate your legal options.
The Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) was passed into law in 1908 with the objective of providing railroad workers legal protection from the dangers of the workplace by offering financial compensation. While the original purpose of the legislation was to protect railway workers only, FELA is a complex law that has expanded its range of coverage to all related employees, including mechanics, track inspectors, and general maintenance workers. Contractors and other third-party companies are also covered by the law following the 1974 Supreme Court Case, Kelly v. Southern Pacific Co.
While they have similar characteristics to workers’ compensation claims, FELA claims are entirely based on negligence. In order to file a FELA claim, the employee is required to demonstrate that the employer was negligent and that this negligence caused an employee injury. Some examples of employer negligence include but are not limited to:
A skilled attorney could further explain the types of employer negligence and the elements of a FELA claim to someone pursuing compensation for their injuries.
While an employee already has numerous hurdles to clear in proving employer negligence, an additional obstacle in filing a FELA claim is the potential for employer retaliation. When an employer punishes an employee following an activity that is protected by law, this is known as employer retaliation. Examples of employer retaliation include:
Retaliations can also be more subtle, like an employer intentionally shifting an employee’s schedule when the employee has limited flexibility. Any preventative action taken by an employer that is intended to deter a reasonable person from issuing a complaint or filing a FELA claim constitutes unlawful employer retaliation.
Although federal law protects all employees from retaliation in the workplace following the construction of a FELA claim, it is often difficult to pinpoint the practice. It is important to note that following the filing of a FELA claim, employer retaliation can only be present if the changes made have an adverse effect on employment.
The first step in remedying this retaliation is to bring the issue to the appropriate supervisor or human resource representative. Bringing the issue to a third party will allow the employer to explain their behavior and give any justification they see necessary. If the employer is unable to give a legitimate explanation, it is necessary to show a link between when the FELA claim was filed and when the retaliatory behavior began using as much evidence as possible. Establishing this link with evidence will create the basis for a strong retaliation claim against an employer.
If you or someone you love has been unlawfully retaliated against following the filing of a FELA claim, a dedicated attorney may be able to assist you in the necessary legal action. Laws regarding employer retaliation following the filing of a FELA claim are complex with constantly changing legal grounds. It is important to reach out to a lawyer who has experience with mass torts and can ensure that your unique situation is handled properly. Call today to learn more about what a knowledgeable railroad attorney can do for you.