Railway Company Settles Disability Discrimination Lawsuit with Railroad Worker

 
Thursday, May 29, 2014
 

Norfolk Southern Railway Company, which operates in the eastern United States, will pay $110,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

According to the EEOC's lawsuit, Norfolk Southern violated federal law by medically disqualifying a track maintenance worker because of degenerative disc disease, a spine condition, without doing an individualized assessment of whether he could perform the essential functions of his job.  After receiving treatment for his condition and being cleared to return to work by his physician, Norfolk Southern's medical director disqualified him from his job and terminated him without first determining whether his medical condition actually affected his ability to perform the job.   

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires employers to perform an individualized assessment of an employee's ability to perform the essential functions of his or her job rather than making assumptions about the employee's ability.  The agency filed suit (EEOC v. Norfolk Southern Railway Company, Case No. 1:13-cv-03126) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia after first attempting a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

The consent decree settling the suit, in addition to the monetary relief, includes provisions for equal employment opportunity training, reporting and posting of anti-discrimination notices.  In the suit and consent decree, Norfolk Southern denied any liability or wrongdoing.

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