Legal news for New Jersey employment attorneys – A NJ Transit worker who was wrongly blamed for a 2008 lethal explosion is to receive $570K for back pay and damages.
OSHA finds NJ Transit guilty of ignoring Federal Rail Safety Act.
Newark, NJ (www.NewYorkInjuryNews.com) – A New Jersey Transit worker was awarded $570,000 on April 7, 2010, after OSHA found the transit wrongfully blamed him for the death of a co-worker and suspended him without pay, as reported by NJ.com.
The worker, Anthony Araujo, was deemed unable to work after a counselor diagnosed him with post-traumatic stress disorder from witnessing a contractor suffer and die from a 13,000-volt explosion on Feb. 25, 2008. The explosion happened in a NJ Transit right-of-way near the Seventh Avenue Bridge.
The following day, the NJ Transit general superintendent called the Employee Assistance Program in reference to the incident, complaining of Araujo’s lost time reportable injury. The superintendent shortly after filed disciplinary charges blaming Araujo for the fatal explosion.
The transit thus denied Araujo’s benefits and suspended him without pay. Subsequently, Araujo suffered the repossession of his car and foreclosure of his home. His credit spiraled downwards as a result.
An investigation by the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration, (OSHA) www.osha.org, described the NJ Transit as showing “reckless disregard” for the Federal Rail Safety Act, a law designed to stop rail management’s culture of retaliating against workers whom report injuries or safety violations, and “complete indifference” to the rights of Araujo.
OSHA ordered the payment of almost $570,000 in damages. Araujo will be compensated a bit less than $500,000 for back pay, attorney fees and lost benefit payments. He will also receive $75,000 in punitive damages for his ruined credit.
Araujo has since returned to work.
Legal News Reporter: Tara Monks – Legal news for New Jersey employment attorneys.