Feds sue Amtrak over employee discrimination

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The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is suing Amtrak for allegedly discriminating against a disabled worker in Seattle.

The agency's lawsuit accuses Amtrak withdrew a 2013 job offer to a Seattle resident who was on the verge of being hired to work as a machinist journeyman in a rail yard after it discovered that he has epilepsy.

The EEOC lawsuit argues that Amtrak violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by rescinding its offer to the resident, Shawn Moe.

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“Twenty five years ago, Congress passed the ADA to protect Americans with disabilities from employment discrimination based on myths and stereotypes about their conditions," Jonathan Peck, acting regional attorney for EEOC’s San Francisco District Office, which also covers Washington state, said in a statement.

"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,” Peck continued.

Moe was reportedly working for another rail company in a similar position before he was set to be hired by Amtrak.

The EEOC said Amtrak ignored the fact that Moe's doctor had signed off on his ability to perform the machinist job.

"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," the agency said. "In doing so, Amtrak cited fears for Moe’s safety should he have a seizure."

The agency said Moe's disability is common and should not have impacted his ability to work for Amtrak.

“Epilepsy reportedly affects 2.2 million Americans," the agency's San Francisco District Director William Tamayo said in a statement. "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.”

Amtrak declined to comment on the lawsuit, citing the pending litigation.

A spokeswoman for the company said Amtrak compiles with federal employment statutes.

"Amtrak takes very seriously its obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act and does not discriminate against employees or applicants based on disability," Amtrak spokeswoman Kimberly Woods said in an email.

This story was updated at 1:49 p.m.