A divided U.S. appeals court on Thursday said railway workers are not required to show that they were fired for refusing to violate a law or regulation in order to bring retaliation claims, in a case involving Texas-based BNSF Railway Co.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a 2-1 ruling said a former Washington state-based conductor’s refusal to abort a safety procedure was protected by the Federal Railway Safety Act, even though he wrongly believed that the test was legally required. But the court unanimously ruled that the question of whether Curtis Rookaird’s refusal to stop performing a brake test was a “contributing factor” to his firing should have gone to a jury, and overturned a $1.2 million award.
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