Appeals court rules in favor of engineer

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit has reversed and remanded to trial an Americans with Disabilities Act decision by a lower court in the case of a locomotive engineer from the Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad.

The engineer was an on-call locomotive engineer who had limited use of his right hand and arm due to injury. The added length of time that it took him to complete his daily activities, such as bathing, eating and dressing, required him to receive a call to report to work more than two hours in advance. The railroad, under new management, refused to give him more time and imposed a two hour call rule for all on-call locomotive engineers.

The appellate court said that he had been constructively demoted to a weekend conductor job by reason of the two hour advanced calling time policy. In sending the case back to trial, the Eighth Circuit observed that the engineer faced the choice of either taking a lower-paying conductor job that he could report to on time or risking discharge by showing up late to work on a repeated basis.

This was sufficient in the court's judgment that a reasonable person could conclude that the railroad created an environment in which he had no choice other than to demote himself.

The engineer recently joined the BLE. No trial date has been set. This is case 14 AD Cases 385 (USCA 8th Circuit. April 28, 2003).


© 2003 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers