When reporting an injury and pursuing workers’ compensation, employees often encounter some obstacles in receiving their lawful benefit. The last thing that should be on an employee’s mind is fear that their report of sustaining an injury should lead to any kind of retaliation.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration sent a strong message to employers that such behavior will not be tolerated when they fined a Seattle area company $300,000 for suspending a woman without pay for reporting an injury suffered at work.
OSHA ordered BNSF Railway Co. to pay $300,000 to cover attorney’s fees, back wages, and damages. Mr. Dean Ikeda, a Seattle OSHA Administrator, said “This sends a clear message that OSHA will not tolerate retaliation against whistle-blowers…Employees need to be able to report on-the-job injuries without fear of reprisal.
In 2008, the unidentified woman twisted her knee as she hopped off a slow-moving train in Interbay. Although railway officials came to the emergency room at Swedish Medical Center, BNSF later claimed she did not report the injury in a timely manner.
BNSF initially put the woman on medical leave without pay, although doctors indicated she could actually do some work. Later, she was disciplined and suspended for 30 days without pay. Further, the company suggested she needed more training and “behavioral focus.”
OSHA countered that this system of discipline amounted to punishing an employee for reporting an injury, which is actually a violation of the Federal Railway Safety Act. As a result of BNSF’s actions, the worker suffered financial and emotional problems, as well as the chronic pain resulting from the accident.
If you are injured on the job, you should immediately seek medical care without any fear of retaliation. You should then seek the experienced advice of a Washington Workers Compensation Lawyer at Emery Reddy to serve as your advocate through the Labor & Industries process.