TCU Wins EEOC Complaint against BNSF

TCU/IAM is happy to report that the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) recently found in favor of TCU/IAM in a charge filed by the union against BNSF Railway.

Recently, BNSF implemented an invasive medical reporting requirement (Rule 26.3.1), which required employees to disclose highly personal medical information to the company each time the employee was away from work, even if there was no business necessity for the disclosure. After TCU/IAM complained, BNSF revised its procedures slightly, but they still fell far short of complying with the law. Accordingly, TCU/IAM filed a charge with the EEOC on behalf of members employed by the company claiming the policy violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA), among other laws. In a coordinated effort, IAM District Lodge 19 filed a similar charge on behalf of IAM-represented employees.

The company resisted the EEOC’s efforts to investigate the charges, resulting in the matter being needlessly dragged out. Right eventually triumphed, however, with the EEOC issuing a determination a few days ago in the TCU/IAM’s favor. In its decision, the EEOC found that BNSF’s “return to work from off-duty/non-work related medical conditions process from January 2012 through the present violates the ADA.” The EEOC went on to state in its determination that BNSF’s “process is overly broad … resulting in unlawful medical inquiries and fitness for duty exam requirements.” The EEOC also found that BNSF violated the ADA by requiring “that employees be financially responsible for medical exam requests made by [BNSF] for its own fitness for duty determinations.” The EEOC’s determination is final. Under the law, the EEOC invites BNSF to participate in a conciliation process. If not resolved during this process, the EEOC can then decide to bring suit against the company. We will keep you informed as the situation develops.

TCU/IAM was assisted in this matter by its long-time law firm, Guerrieri, Bartos & Roma, P.C., and by IAM Deputy General Counsel Carla Siegel.

Click HERE to see the EEOC’s Determination.

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