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California employees who are in fear of losing their jobs after reporting potential risks may be interested to learn that a former Amtrak employee was awarded a nearly $900,000 settlement in that type of a case. The agent had raised concerns in October 2010 about the work an Amtrak contractor was completing as the contractor had been convicted for fraud in New York.

After the employee gave information to Amtrak's Dispute Resolution Office, he received his first negative performance review. In March of the following year, he was told his position was being eliminated. He attempted to apply for other positions that he was well qualified for, but was told that he did not have the proper training. Finally, in June, he was ultimately fired after Amtrak told him that it could not place him in a new position.

The former employee ultimately filed a report with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. When OSHA's investigation was completed, it was determined that the former employee's reports concerning railroad safety issues where protected under the Federal Railroad Safety Act. As such, OSHA ordered Amtrak to take corrective actions, which including paying the employee compensation, reinstating the employee and inform other railroad employees of their rights.

If an employee is wrongfully terminated after reporting potential safety hazards, an employment law attorney might assist by pursuing a whistleblower lawsuit. Not only can the attorney seek back wages for the wrongful termination, but the employee may also potentially be awarded interest on the back wages as well as other amounts. In some situations, the matter can be settled out of court.

Source: CT Post, "OSHA: Amtrak whistleblower gets job back, awarded $892,551", Jim Shay, Jan. 20, 2017

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