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Labor Department orders Metro-North Railroad to pay record fine over worker retaliation case

HARTFORD, Conn. – The U.S. Labor Department has ordered the Metro-North Railroad to pay a record fine for taking disciplinary action against an employee who reported getting injured on the job.

The department said Tuesday that the fine of more than $250,000 marks the largest punitive damages ever in a retaliation case under the Federal Railroad Safety Act.

The employee involved was a coach cleaner in Connecticut who reported suffering a knee injury in November 2011.

The assistant labour secretary for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration says companies cannot fix safety problems when employees hesitate to report work-related injuries because they fear retaliation.

Metro-North spokesman Aaron Donovan says the railroad has made strides to promote a safety culture that encourages employees to report safety concerns without fear of retaliation.