WASHINGTON -- Metro has settled a lawsuit over a train derailment in Falls Church, Va. and has agreed to hire back most of the workers it fired.
Those workers were accused of falsifying inspection reports. Now, an arbitrator has apparently concluded that the workers were only doing what Metro trained them to do.
It had to be frightening to be on that Silver Line that derailed in Falls Church back in 2016. Thankfully, no one was seriously injured. The incident shined a light on Metro's safety and track maintenance problems.
An Investigation by the Federal Transit Administration found that deteriorating tracks on a small section of the silver line led to the derailment.
Metro accused its track inspectors of falsifying documents and fired about a dozen workers. Five of them filed a lawsuit alleging they were wrongly accused.
Now, an arbitration panel is calling the firings, "[scapegoating] by the Authority for widespread failing," according to union spokespersons David Stephen.
The arbitrator ordered Metro to rehire one of the workers.
The arbitrator determined inspectors were writing the track reports exactly how they were trained and according a certain rule. The rule states that if a measurement is within one-eighth of an inch of the previous month's measurement, then inspectors are expected to leave the previous entry as is, according to Stephen.
"This procedure dates back to the origin of Metro Rail and is not falsification," Stephen wrote in an email.
This week, Metro reached an agreement with five of those workers and the the union said most are getting their jobs back.
The settlement requires Union employees in safety-sensitive positions to now be governed by a "one strike" rule, meaning if you screw up once, and falsified a report, you're fired. The returning employees will also be required to attend new track safety training.
Metro said the track inspectors will now be subject to routine compliance oversight. It said the agreement is an important joint effort with labor leaders to to working work together to improve safety and accountability at Metro.