Cook County Record

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Unions allege BNSF Railway employee medical reporting rules violate Americans with Disabilities Act

Federal Court

By Carrie Bradon | Jul 5, 2019

MorgueFile - BryanHanson

CHICAGO — A group of unions is suing BNSF Railway, alleging its practices for requiring medical documentation violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The unions filed their complaint June 28 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago.

Plaintiffs include unions the American Train Dispatchers Association; Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen; Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters; Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen; International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District Lodge 19; International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers Mechanical Division; International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers Transportation Division; International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers System Council 16; National Conference of Firemen & Oilers District of Local 32BJ SEIU; and Transportation Communications Union/IAM. 

According to the complaint, BNSF implemented a new medical rule Jan. 1, 2012, requiring a new diagnosis for a number of health issues, including diabetes, bone fractures, heart disease, seizures, stroke and sleep apnea, as well as a number of medical events. The company also required employees to provide new medical information.

The plaintiffs claim they attempted to complain to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, noting that BNSF required employees who were off work for a medical leave of absence to fill out a medical status form for non-work related medical conditions, even if their doctor had released them to full duty without restriction. The unions also claimed employees were held out of service while BNSF pursued medical documentation.

The suit alleges BNSF Railway has violated the ADA by requiring employees to certify they have not developed medical conditions that could adversely affect their ability to work safely, even in instances when they are not impacted by the condition.

The plaintiffs seek judgment against BNSF, plus attorney fees and court costs. They are represented by attorneys Joel A. D’Alba and Ryan A. Hagerty of Asher Gittler & D’Alba Ltd., in Chicago; Kevin C. Brodar of SMART-TD in North Olmstead, Ohio; Michael S. Wolly of Zwerdling, Paul, Kahn & Wolly PC in Washington, D.C.; Richard Edelman of Mooney, Geen, Saindon, Murphy and Welch PC in Washington, D.C.; and Elizabeth Roma of Guerrieri, Bartos & Roma PC in Washington, D.C.

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Case No. 1:19-CV-04361

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Organizations in this Story

BNSF Railway CompanyAsher, Gittler & D'AlbaU.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division

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