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Railroad company targeted in disability discrimination claims

Published By | Sep 7, 2022 | Discrimination

Being let go from your job is upsetting. When your termination comes on the heels of a traumatic health event, it can be especially devastating. Filing a lawsuit may help you assert your rights and recover compensation for any damages you suffered at the hands of your employer.

This is the route several parties have taken against Union Pacific Railroad after the company wrongfully dismissed them on the basis of their disabilities.

Can employers make medical determinations?

The employees argue that Union Pacific has a practice of discriminating against people who report certain health conditions to the company by disqualifying them from working even if the health conditions have little bearing on whether the employees can safely perform their jobs.  Employees claimed that the company disqualified them from working without examining the employees and in some cases without even speaking to them about their health conditions. In one case, an employee claimed that after he fainted one time due to dehydration while he battled an illness, the company treated the employee as if he had a condition that causes seizures and banned the employee from operating company vehicles, working around moving trains, or holding any job that involved “critical decision making”. Another employee, whose doctor placed him on anti-seizure medication as a precaution after he was involved in a motorcycle accident, alleges that he lost his job after the company imposed a series of restrictions on him that made it impossible to perform his work, even though the employee never had a seizure.

Both of these individuals filed lawsuits claiming that the company discriminated against them because of their real or perceived disabilities. Hundreds of other employees have made similar complaints and more than a dozen federal lawsuits are pending.

Red flags

An employer’s termination of someone because of an actual or perceived physical or mental condition should raise a red flag. Unless the condition prevents a person from safely and effectively performing essential job functions, employers should not make employment decisions based on that real or perceived condition. Doing so could violate the employee’s rights and may lead to litigation.

Further, employees with disabilities have the right to request reasonable accommodations and should be granted such accommodations as long as they do not pose an undue burden on the employer It is unlawful for an employer to refuse to provide an employee with a reasonable accommodation, to refuse to engage in an interactive process with the employee regarding the requested accommodation, or to take any adverse action against the employee because of their disability or request for reasonable accommodations.

An accident or serious illness can be incredibly destabilizing. Losing your job because of an injury or illness can make the situation that much worse. Should this happen, filing a legal claim could help you assert your rights and recover damages against your employer from any unlawful employment decision.

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The Attorneys of Katz Melinger PLLC