A Metro-North Railroad employee injured on the job was awarded more than a million dollars after he was disciplined by company management for reporting an injury at work.
Andy Barati was also awarded $50,000 by the jury for the pain, suffering, disfigurement, and lost wages after a railroad tie fell on to his foot and broke his big toe. Barati claimed he was fired after he reported the incident when a jack failed and led to the falling tie.
Under the Federal Rail Safety Act, employees are not allowed to be disciplined for reporting violations of laws or rules or for reporting an injury in the workplace.
Metro-North, Barati’s employer, is one of the most traveled commuter railway in the nation. Travelers commute from New York City to its suburbs in New York State and neighboring states Connecticut and New Jersey. Barati was injured while working at NYC’s Grand Central Terminal in 2008. The 48 year old was fired and then rehired, having his termination reduced down to a suspension.
Metro-North alleged that Barati lowed a rail and block tie without first checking for foot clearance. His foot then became trapped under the block tire. The termination then came with Barati supposedly violating company policy for not checking his foot placement. OSHA then launched an investigation and found reasonable cause that Metro-North was guilty of violating the railroad safety laws. A foreman on the job site said the work area was not properly lit. Additional investigation found that Barati was not properly trained to operate a manual track jack other than for a few minutes during his orientation.