Back before modern communications systems made conversations between operators of one train and operators of another as simple as picking up a phone, signals were sent back and forth with blasts on the trains’ whistles. Variations in whistle patterns meant different things to nearby railroad workers, drivers of motor vehicles and engineers on other trains.
Today, “whistleblower” has a different meaning, even when it refers to railroads. Two former railroad workers say they were fired in retaliation for their testimony on behalf of a co-worker was injured on the job.
The men recently filed federal whistleblower lawsuits against a regional railroad operating mainly In North Dakota. The men say in court documents that their employment was terminated “for testifying truthfully about hazardous safety conditions and policies.”
The men told attorneys that unsafe working conditions caused the injury.
The railroad rejects those claims, insisting that it had legitimate reasons for firing the two. Among the reasons cited: the men waited more than two years to report unsafe tool usage caused an injury, instead of reporting it at the time of the injury.
The injury to their co-worker happened in 2012. They were fired late in 2014.
They seek unspecified damages.
We cannot know from the sparse details of a newspaper report who is right or wrong in this case. But we do know that far too often workers are fired or denied raises and promotions after they blow the whistle on inappropriate company behavior.
A Milwaukee employment law attorney can help workers fight back against unlawful retaliation.