Agency Alleges Company Refuses to Hire Worker Due to Epilepsy
SEATTLE - The Washington, D.C.-based National Passenger Railroad Corporation, better known as Amtrak, violated federal law when it withdrew a job offer to a qualified applicant because he has epilepsy, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.
According to EEOC's lawsuit, after receiving Amtrak's conditional job offer to start as a machinist journeyman at the company's Seattle, Wash. yard in June 2013, Shawn Moe reported during his post-offer medical exam that he has epilepsy and takes medication to successfully control it. He had been working in a similar position for another locomotive company for years without any need for restrictions or limitations due to his epilepsy. Despite the fact that Moe's neurologist verified to Amtrak that he had been seizure-free for years and was able to safely perform the essential functions of the job, without limitation, while on medication, the company rejected the neurologist's determination and withdrew the job offer in August 2013. In doing so, Amtrak cited fears for Moe's safety should he have a seizure.
Refusing to hire a person based on a disability violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington [Case No. 2:15-cv-01269] after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. EEOC seeks monetary damages on behalf of Moe and injunctive relief, which typically includes training on anti-discrimination laws, posting anti-discrimination notices at the worksite, and compliance reporting.
"Twenty five years ago, Congress passed the ADA to protect Americans with disabilities from employment discrimination based on myths and stereotypes about their conditions. By refusing to hire a well-qualified job applicant like Mr. Moe, whose epilepsy is under control, Amtrak is violating Mr. Moe's rights under the law," said Jonathan Peck, acting regional attorney for EEOC's San Francisco District Office, which includes Washington State.
San Francisco District Director William Tamayo said, "Epilepsy reportedly affects 2.2 million Americans. About one out of every 26 people will develop epilepsy at some point in their lives, and it affects each person differently. It is critical that employers do not base job decisions on stereotypes, but instead carefully consider an employee's abilities."
According to publicly available information and its website, www.amtrak.com, Amtrak is a publicly funded service, operated and managed as a for-profit corporation with headquartered in Washington, D.C. Amtrak operates 374 trains each day, connecting more than 500 destinations in 46 states and three Canadian provinces. In fiscal year 2013, Amtrak served a record 31.6 million passengers and had $3 billion in revenue, while employing more than 20,000 people nationwide.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.