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June 30, 2014 | last updated June 30, 2014 11:39 am

Fired railroad foreman awarded $400K in whistleblower case

A federal jury in Maine has awarded $400,000 in back pay and punitive damages to a former foreman of the Springfield Terminal Railway Co. who was fired after refusing orders to force an untrained worker to clean up a 2011 chemical spill in North Yarmouth.

The Portland Press Herald reported that the jury, after a four-day trial in U.S. District Court in Portland last week, awarded Jason Worcester $150,000 in back pay and compensation and $250,000 in punitive damages.

Worcester, who had worked in the railway's signal department for 16 years, filed a federal whistleblower complaint, then a federal lawsuit against the company after being fired on Nov. 28, 2011, the newspaper reported. The railway carrier had accused him of interfering with cleanup efforts at a work site in North Yarmouth on Oct. 7, 2011, a day after 20 to 50 gallons of hydraulic fluid were spilled onto the railroad bed when he stopped a company trainee with little experience from operating an excavator, the newspaper reported.

Springfield Terminal Railway is a subsidiary of Pan Am Railways, which is based in Billerica, Mass.

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