Title: Federal Rail Safety Act (FRSA)
Statute:  49 U.S.C. §20109
Governing Agency:  United States Department of Labor , Occupational Safety and Health Administration

General Overview:  The Federal Rail Safety Act was enacted to set standards for all areas of railway safety, including research, development, and training. This act contains protections for workers who report safety and other violations committed by their rail employers. The railroad is on the nation’s oldest industries, warranting some of the strongest protections and remedies to you, the whistleblower.

Who is covered?:     
  • Any employee of a railroad carries (includes officers)
  • Employees of contractors and subcontractors of railroad carries
Who is not covered?:
  • FRSA does not apply to any railroad carrier employers that engage only in intrastate commerce (business stays within the state)
What is covered?:

-Employees protected under this act cannot be retaliated and/or discriminated against for:

-Illegal retaliation by employers includes:
  • discharging claiming party
  • demoting claiming party
  • suspending claiming party
  • reprimands
  • discrimination against claiming party

Petty, slight actions are not considered acts of discrimination. Some of these include: annoyances, such as stray negative comments in an otherwise positive or neutral evaluation, "snubbing" a colleague, or negative comments that are justified by an employee's poor work performance or history.

Discrimination in the workplace often includes, but not limited to: refusal to hire, denial of promotion; other actions affecting employment such as threats, unjustified negative evaluations, unjustified negative references, or increased surveillance, and any other action such as an assault or unfounded civil or criminal charges that are likely to deter reasonable people from pursuing their rights

How do I submit a claim?- a Step-by-Step Approach :

1.       If you believe your employer has violated a provision of this act, you must file a complaint within 180 days of the alleged violation. The complaint must be submitted to the Secretary of Labor, and can be done so by filing with your regional OSHA office. – OSHA Regional Office contact information

2.       After reviewing your complaint, the Secretary of Labor and/or OSHA may decide to open an investigation. The Secretary of Labor will hand down a ruling, and if your employer fails to comply a civil suit may be filed on behalf of the Secretary of Labor.

3.        If 210 days pass from the filing date and no ruling has been issued, you may file a civil lawsuit in U.S. District Court in the jurisdiction where the alleged violation took place. The court will issue a ruling.

4.        If either party wishes to appeal they must do so in the U.S. Court of Appeals in the jurisdiction where the alleged violation took place. The petition for review must be filed within 60 days of the lower courts, or the Secretary of Labor’s ruling.

Rights and Remedies:
  • Reinstatement to former position
  • Back pay (with interest)
  • Reasonable attorney fees and other related litigation costs
  • Compensatory damages
  • Punitive damages (but cannot exceed $250,000- limit for retaliation relating to employment is $20,000, limit for being disciplined for reporting an injury is $250,000)
Related Links:
        United States Department of Homeland Security
        United States Department of Transportation
        Report a hazardous working condition or health hazard

Disclaimer. This website does not offer legal advice.  This website is for informational purposes only. There is no guarantee that this information is accurate or up to date. You should contact an attorney experienced with whistleblower rights and familiar with the specific statutes. Unfortunately, we are unable to provide you with advice regarding your particular case.