Safety and OSHA News

Company didn’t hire man who suffered seizures for safety reasons: $112K settlement

Amtrak will have to pay a former job applicant $112,000 and make other changes as part of a settlement reached with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). 

According to the EEOC lawsuit, Amtrak withdrew a job offer to Shawn Moe as a machinist journeyman after learning he had suffered three epileptic seizures over the course of his life.

Amtrak’s reason for withdrawing the job offer: safety concerns.

But Moe had worked safely at a similar job. His neurologist verified to Amtrak that Moe’s epilepsy was controlled with medication and he hadn’t had a seizure for three years. The neurologist said Moe was able to safely perform the essential functions of the job without limitation while on medication.

“The fact that I have epilepsy has never prevented me from safely doing my job,” said Moe.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits an employer from discriminating against an employee based on a disability. The ADA also requires an employer to assess a worker’s actual ability to perform job functions when there are safety concerns.

When talks with Amtrak failed, the EEOC filed a lawsuit in federal court against the rail company. That triggered a settlement. The consent decree requires Amtrak to pay Moe $112,000 in lost wages and compensatory damages.

Amtrak is also required to:

  • train its staff on hiring obligations and assessing reasonable accommodations under the ADA
  • implement and disseminate a modified ADA policy, and
  • post a notice for employees about the consent decree and employees’ rights under the ADA.

“Amtrak concluded that Mr. Moe presented a significant safety risk without assessing the actual likelihood of him having a seizure at all,” said EEOC Senior Trial Attorney May Che.

“It is critical that employers do not base job decisions on stereotypes, but instead carefully consider an employee’s abilities,” said EEOC Seattle Field Director Nancy Sienko.

The EEOC says Moe moved on and found another job.

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