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Fired UP worker wins court rulingTell North Platte what you think

In a long battle to get his job back, former Bailey Yard worker Brian Petersen was awarded damages Thursday of $325,000, when a federal judge ruled that he was wrongfully fired.

Petersen, 29, was fired in 2009 after he stepped up on some potentially slippery Timken bearings to read the serial numbers on some stacked traction motors -- a safety violation according to Union Pacific rules.

And, that safety violation came a few months after an automobile ran over Petersen’s foot in the parking lot.

Also, more than two years before that, Petersen’s head was badly injured in an incident in the mechanical shop.

Petersen appealed the firing. He said he was fired because he reported the parking lot injury, as he was required to do.

On Thursday, U.S. Administrative Law judge Pamela A. Lakes of the Department of Labor again ordered Union Pacific to reinstate Petersen as an apprentice machinist “as soon as possible.”

Lakes also ordered UP to pay Petersen “back pay with interest extending from the time of termination until reinstatement,” as well as compensatory damages of $75,000 and punitive damages of $100,000 and legal fees.

The damages total nearly $325,000, Petersen’s attorney Lou Jungbauer said.

Lakes harshly criticized Union Pacific’s convoluted safety rules and procedures.

She said “(Union Pacific’s safety rules) are written in such a manner that anyone who is injured and reports it will have violated at least a part of one or more of them.”

“These rules in effect punish an employee for being injured,” she wrote.

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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 8/10/2013
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