49 CFR § 218.97 - Good faith challenge procedures.

§ 218.97 Good faith challenge procedures.

(a) Employee responsibility. An employee shall inform the railroad or employer whenever the employee makes a good faith determination that the employee has been directed to either take actions that would violate FRA regulations regarding the handling of equipment, switches, and fixed derails as required by this subpart, or to take actions that would violate the railroad's operating rules implementing the requirements of this subpart.

(b) General procedures. Each railroad or employer is responsible for the training of and compliance by its employees with the requirements of this subpart.

(1) Each railroad or employer shall adopt and implement written procedures which guarantee each employee the right to challenge in good faith whether the procedures that will be used to accomplish a specific task comply with the requirements of this subpart or any operating rule relied upon to fulfill the requirements of this subpart. Each railroad or employer's written procedures shall provide for prompt and equitable resolution of challenges made in accordance with this subpart.

(2) The written procedures required by this section shall indicate that the good faith challenge described in paragraph (b)(1) of this section is not intended to abridge any rights or remedies available to the employee under a collective bargaining agreement, or any Federal law including, but not limited to, 29 U.S.C. 651 et seq., 6 U.S.C. 1142, or 49 U.S.C. 20109.

(3) Each affected employee shall be instructed on the written procedures required by this paragraph as part of the training prescribed by § 217.11 of this chapter.

(4) A copy of the current written procedures shall be provided to each affected employee and made available for inspection and copying by representatives of the FRA during normal business hours.

(c) The written procedures shall -

(1) Grant each employee the right to challenge any directive which, based on the employee's good faith determination, would cause the employee to violate any requirement of this subpart or any operating rule relied upon to fulfill the requirements of this subpart;

(2) Provide that the railroad or employer shall not require the challenging employee to comply with the directive until the challenge resulting from the good faith determination is resolved;

(3) Provide that the railroad or employer may require the challenging employee to perform tasks unrelated to the challenge until the challenge is resolved;

(4) Provide that the railroad or employer may direct an employee, other than the challenging employee, to perform the challenged task prior to the challenge being resolved as long as this other employee is informed of the challenge and does not also make a good faith determination that the challenged task would violate FRA regulations regarding the handling of equipment, switches, and fixed derails as required in this subpart, or a railroad's operating rules implementing the requirements of this subpart;

(5) Provide that a challenge may be resolved by:

(i) A railroad or employer officer's acceptance of the employee's request;

(ii) An employee's acceptance of the directive;

(iii) An employee's agreement to a compromise solution acceptable to the person issuing the directive; or

(iv) As further determined under paragraph (d) of this section.

(d) In the event that the challenge cannot be resolved because the person issuing the directive determines that the employee's challenge has not been made in good faith or there is no reasonable alternative to the direct order, the written procedures shall:

(1) Provide for immediate review by at least one officer of the railroad or employer, except for each railroad with less than 400,000 total employee work hours annually. This immediate review shall:

(i) Not be conducted by the person issuing the challenged directive, or that person's subordinate; and

(ii) Provide that a challenge may be resolved by using the same options available for resolving the challenge as the initial officer as well as the option described in paragraph (d)(2) of this section, except that the reviewing officer's decision shall not be subject to further immediate review, unless provided for in the railroad's or employer's written procedures;

(2) Provide that if the officer making the railroad's or employer's final decision concludes that the challenged directive would not cause the employee to violate any requirement of this subpart or the railroad's or employer's operating rule relied upon to fulfill the requirements of this subpart and directs the employee to perform the challenged directive, the officer shall further explain to the employee that Federal law may protect the employee from retaliation if the employee refuses to do the work and if the employee's refusal is a lawful, good faith act;

(3) Provide that the employee be afforded an opportunity to document electronically or in writing any protest to the railroad or employer's final decision before the tour of duty is complete. The employee shall be afforded the opportunity to retain a copy of the protest;

(4) Provide that the employee, upon written request, has a right to further review by a designated railroad or employer officer, within 30 days after the expiration of the month during which the challenge occurred, for the purpose of verifying the proper application of the regulation, law, procedure or rule in question. The verification decision shall be made in writing to the employee.

(e) Recordkeeping and record retention.

(1) A copy of the written procedures required by this section shall be retained at the employer or railroad's system headquarters and at each division headquarters, and made available to representatives of the FRA for inspection and copying during normal business hours.

(2) A copy of any written good faith challenge verification decision, made in accordance with paragraph (d)(4) of this section, shall be retained at the employer or railroad's system headquarters and at the division headquarters to which the employee was working when the challenge was initiated, and made available to representatives of the FRA for inspection and copying during normal business hours for at least one calendar year after expiration of the year during which the decision was issued.

(3) Each employer or railroad to which this subpart applies is authorized to retain by electronic recordkeeping the information prescribed in this subpart in accordance with the electronic recordkeeping standards set forth in § 217.9(g)(1) through (5) of this chapter.

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