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Gov't: Norfolk Southern illegally fired workers

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is ordering railroad operator Norfolk Southern to pay more than $800,000 for firing three workers after they reported injuries on the job.

Safety officials said Monday that the incidents are part of a larger pattern in which the Norfolk, Va.-based company retaliates against employees for reporting work-related injuries, creating a chilling effect in the railroad industry.

The violations of federal whistleblower laws involved a laborer in Greenville, S.C., an engineer in Louisville, Ky., and a railroad conductor based in Harrisburg, Pa. Payments include back pay, compensatory damages and about $525,000 in punitive damages and attorneys' fees.

Norfolk Southern spokesman Robin Chapman said the company plans to appeal all three administrative rulings.

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