Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad has been ordered to pay a Kansas City, Kan.-based employee $95,096 following a whistleblower investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
The fine represents back wages, compensatory damages, attorney’s fees,  and punitive damages.
The investigation revealed that BNSF issued an employee a 30-day suspension and one-year probation in retaliation for reporting a work-related injury. Investigators also found that railroad officials disciplined the employee for not using proper tools to complete a task, although evidence revealed the proper tools were not available, according to a press release from OSHA.
Many of the railroad’s policies, including increased scrutiny for workers who suffer work related injuries and giving gift cards to those work crews that go injury free over a period of time, discourage workers from reporting on-the-job injuries.
As part of the investigation, the railroad was ordered to provide whistleblower rights information to its employees.
BNSF issued a notice to proceed on the intermodal project near Edgerton in October in order to capture a $35 million tax incentive from the state of Kansas.
Once completed, the railroad anticipates employing more than 140 people at the Edgerton facility. By 2026, BNSF officials project they will employ more than 300 people locally.
—Danedri Thompson