Chicago – Union Pacific Railroad Company is violating federal law by refusing to return an employee who once had a brain tumor to work as a custodian, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Union Pacific imposed unlawful restrictions on an employee who once had a brain tumor and then used those restrictions to justify its refusal to allow the employee to return to work as a custodian, a position Union Pacific claims is “safety-critical.” Without assessing the employee individually, and based solely on the employee’s history of having a tumor removed, Union Pacific instituted blanket restrictions out of unfounded fears that the employee would suffer from sudden incapacitation due to seizures, according to the EEOC. Union Pacific ignored the employee’s own doctors’ assessments that the employee was not at risk for sudden incapacitation and evidence that the employee fully recovered and had never had a seizure post-hospitalization, EEOC alleges.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits workplace discrimination, including failure to return to work employees who are regarded as disabled but can perform the essential duties of an available job.
“Employers cannot impose restrictions on employees based on unreasonable fears. Rather, any restrictions must rely on an individualized assessment, based on reasonable medical evidence, of an employee’s ability to perform the essential functions of the job safely,” said Julianne Bowman, the EEOC’s district director in Chicago.