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Railroad/Transportation Law

Federal Rail Safety Act

The Federal Rail Safety Act was enacted “to promote safety in every area of railroad operations”. 49 U.S.C. 20101. Congress passed amendments in 2007 expanding the protections of employees under the anti-retaliation provisions with enforcement through the Department of Labor.

A railroad carrier “may not discharge, demote, suspend, reprimand, or in any other way discriminate against an employee if such discrimination is due, in whole or in part to the employee's engagement in one of numerous protected activities”. Examples of protected activity includes notifying a railroad carrier of a work-related personal injury or work-related illness.

Complaints must be filed within 180 days to OSHA for an investigation and  hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. Additionally, after 210 days have passed, a lawsuit may be filed in federal court with a jury trial.

FELA and Jones Act: Injuries and Occupational Exposure to Toxic Chemicals

The Federal Employer's Liability Act (FELA), is a federal law that protects and compensates railroaders who are injured on the job or as a result of an occupational illness.  Congress passed the Federal Employer's Liability Act in the early 1900's to protect employees and their families by providing the right to recover compensation when injured as a result of an accident or occupational illness.  Such compensation under the statute provides for a jury trial right and to seek compensation for lost wages, future wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and additional damages for permanent disability.  Mr. Morgan is a designated FELA attorney approved by the Transportation Communication Union.  Mr. Paul is a panel attorney for the Union plus sponsored by the AFL-CIO. 

The Jones Act is a federal law modeled after the Federal Employer's Liability Act that provides compensation to Maritime workers who work on both inland waterways and offshore vessels. 

Occupational exposure to carcinogens such as asbestos and benzene may lead to illnesses that may be compensated through the above laws or various products liability laws.  The inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause mesothelioma, a type of cancer strongly associated with asbestos exposure.

Benzene is a chemical used for many industrial purposes that is known to cause cancer.  Those exposed to benzene in the workplace and subsequently diagnosed with certain types of cancers, blood disorders, or other illnesses may have a right to compensation for the medical expenses, and pain and suffering.  The type of benzene exposure can vary depending on whether the individual is inhaling air around hazardous sites or working with certain chemicals that contain benzene. 

Federal Motor Safety Carrier Act

In 1999, Congress passed the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act and created the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The FMCSA is a separate administration within the U.S. Department of Transportation, with a mission to “reduce crashes, injuries and fatalities involving large trucks and buses.”


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