St. Patrick’s Day, the Irish, and FELA

St. Patrick’s Day, the Irish, and FELA
Mar 16, 2023

When thinking of St Patrick’s Day, many conjure up images of the Irish, or everyone who wants to be Irish for the day, drinking green beer, playing music, and dancing the jig. While that may be true, our country owes immigrants from Ireland a great deal of appreciation as they helped build our nation into an industrial powerhouse…but not without a cost.

The 19th and early 20th centuries marked a period of intense industrial growth in the United States. The railroad industry, in particular, played a critical role in connecting the country and facilitating commerce. However, the cost of this expansion was often borne by the workers who toiled on the railways. Irish immigrants, in particular, faced some of the most unsafe and hazardous conditions, leading to a movement that ultimately paved the way for the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA).

Irish immigration to the United States began in the mid-19th century due to the devastating effects of the Great Famine. Many Irish immigrants found work on the railways, where they were subjected to long hours, low wages, and unsafe conditions. In the early days of the railroads, there were no safety standards or regulations, and accidents were common. Workers were expected to work in all weather conditions, often without proper clothing or protective gear.

The situation worsened during the period of rapid expansion in the late 19th century. Railroads were built at a breakneck pace, and workers were under immense pressure to complete the work quickly. As a result, corners were cut, and safety was often ignored. Workers were injured or killed in accidents, and there was little recourse for them or their families.

The push for better working conditions for railroad workers began in earnest in the late 1800s, with the formation of labor unions and the advent of the progressive movement. In 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt signed the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) into law. FELA established the legal right of railroad workers to sue their employers for injuries suffered on the job. The law also required railroads to provide a reasonably safe workplace, to inspect and maintain equipment regularly, and to provide training and supervision for their employees.

FELA was a landmark piece of legislation that helped to improve the safety and working conditions of railroad workers. Today, law firms like Warshauer Woodward Atkins in Georgia specialize in using FELA to help injured railroad workers and their families obtain financial security. Warshauer Woodward Atkins has a team of experienced attorneys who are dedicated to fighting for the rights of railroad workers. They have won numerous cases involving injuries from locomotive and train accidents, defective equipment, and exposure to toxic substances.

The legacy of Irish immigrants who worked on the railroads lives on today, thanks in part to the Federal Employers Liability Act. While working conditions for railroad workers have improved significantly since the early days of the industry, accidents and injuries still occur. Law firms like Warshauer Woodward Atkins play an important role in helping injured workers obtain the compensation they deserve. Through their work, they continue to uphold the principles of FELA and fight for the rights of railroad workers in Georgia and beyond.