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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 27692
Experience:  Former judicial law clerk, lawyer
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I have been employed by the railroad since 1999. In 2004 i

Customer Question

I have been employed by the railroad since 1999. In 2004 i was sent, by the railroad, to a rehab. I was put on suboxone and was discharged on the medication. The railroad let me go back to work in 2004 after the rehab, and i was on the suboxone. I went to locomotive engineer school in 2005, and was a locomotive engineer until 2009. I relapsed in july 2009, and was sent back to rehab, and have completed everything, and still on suboxone. I have been off work since july 2009 and was recently told i could come back. I took a drug test, which obviously showed the suboxone, and i provided a script for proof. My doctor has monitored me the entire time i have been on this medication and has told me that she doesn't see any reason why i couldn't work as a locomotive engineer. She understands that it is considered a "safety sensitive position" and she will provide me with any verification needed to return to work. I don't know what rights i have, but i feel that i have shown my ability to work while taking this medication. Being employed, and accident/injury free, for 5 1/2 as a locomotive engineer, while on this medication, i would think shows that this doesn't put a burden on my ability to perform my duties. Why would it be ok to take for several years and then all of a sudden they claim i can't be on it. I am not turning anyone it, but i know several people that i work with at the railroad that are on this medication. I was told by several people that this might fall under the ADA, since my disability doesn't restrict me from doing anything. I am willing to hire an attorney, if there is a possibility of me being able to fight for my job back. I am in the drug and alcohol program at my job, norfolk southern railway, and my most recent test showed the suboxone and something else that she said isn't a big deal, Meprobromate, a muscle relaxer. I have been employed by norfolk southern since 1999 and don't want to lose all of the benefits that i would have. I am currently employed as a maintenance technician at another job, but really want to return to the railroad. From what i understand, the FRA doesn't have any information, that i can find, that prohibits this medication. Would there be something that my doctor could do to help me in this situation?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Hi,

I'm Lucy, and I'd be happy to answer your questions today. I'm sorry to hear about your situation.

If you have a medical condition that requires you to take this medication, taking the medication DOES NOT hinder your ability to do your job or present a danger, and it's not prohibited by state or federal law, you can request a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act. What the ADA says is that employers must make reasonable accommodations for employees who have disabilities. A disability is a condition that affects one or more life activities. If you're able to control it with medication, it is reasonable for your employer to allow you to continue doing the job while taking the medication (since, again, it doesn't cause any danger or interference). Your doctor may be able to write you a note stating that you need this medication for a condition. The fact that other people in the same position take the same medication highly suggests that it's reasonable for them to allow you to take it.

If your reasonable accommodation request is denied, then you may be able to talk to a local attorney about sending your employer a letter. You could also wind up with a claim that they're discriminating against you because of your disability, which is also illegal. If you win a case against them, your employer could be required to pay your attorney's fees, which can be a powerful incentive for them to try to negotiate with you.

If you have any questions or concerns about my response, please reply WITHOUT RATING. It's important that you are 100% satisfied with my courtesy and professionalism. Otherwise, please rate my service positively so I am paid for the time I spend answering questions. If you are on a mobile device, you may need to scroll to the right. There is no charge for follow-up questions. Thank you.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I will try to call when I get a chance, hopefully be the end of the week, but I am attaching the exact paperwork that the medical dept requires us to follow. It is several pages long, but the pages that refer to me are number 1 and 2(medication guidance), numbered at the bottom of each Page. There are several pages before it that are not numbered, so you have to go down quite a ways to get there. On my cell phone, it showed up as like page 30 & 31. The medication will be under buprenorphine, suboxone, or subutex. It is considered a narcotic used to treat opiate dependence. There are many factors involved that are too confusing and drawn out to go into detail with through email, since my typing is horrible. If I have time at work, I may try to email again. Thanks
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

I'm unfortunately not able to speak with you on the phone. Whatever you tried to attach did not come through, but I'm sorry - I cannot review a 30 page document for you without charging my normal hourly rate as an attorney.

What is your specific follow-up question?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Im sorry, i forgot to attach it. It is only 2 pages long. Hopefully this will help give me a better answer as to where to start, legally speaking. Again, the medication is buprenorphine, also suboxone, subutex. It is stated unde narcotics used to treat opiate dependence. Thanks again.
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

But what is your question about the document? Why are you showing it to me? We're only able to provide general information, not specific advice, so I need to know what you're asking. In the original question, you said there were no problems with this medication - are you taking back that statement?

Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

I'm getting an error message that the file is corrupt and cannot be opened.