• Eighth Circuit Affirms Dismissal Of Brakeman’s Retaliatory FRSA Claim
  • November 4, 2014
  • Law Firm: Sutherland Asbill Brennan LLP - Washington Office
  • In December 2009, a railroad brakeman with a long history of good work performance committed a serious safety violation for which he accepted responsibility and agreed to disciplinary measures including a year of probation. In September 2010, the railroad dismissed the brakeman following an investigation into a separate serious safety violation committed in June 2010. In March 2011, the brakeman filed a complaint with the Department of Labor alleging that his discharge was motivated, at least in part, by complaints he made in the months preceding his discharge that constituted safety reports protected by the Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA). When the Department of Labor did not issue a final decision within 210 days, the brakeman filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, which ultimately granted summary judgment in favor of the railroad, finding that the brakeman had not made a prima facie case of unlawful retaliation.

    Earlier this month, the Eighth Circuit affirmed the dismissal after a de novo review. In particular, the court concluded that the brakeman’s complaint regarding an allegedly unfair banner test was not a report of a hazardous safety condition and that there was no evidence that those involved in the discharge decision had knowledge (actual or constructive) of the brakeman’s complaint that a flop-over handle used to derail cars was too heavy and could cause employees back injuries.