Jon Campisi Nov. 6, 2013, 9:31am


A Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority employee has filed a civil suit against the mass transit agency over claims that the defendant unfairly denied his request for medical accommodations.

Rahim Abdullah, who lives in Newark, Del., seeks more than $100,000 in damages from SEPTA relating to his claims that the agency refused to give him time off so that he could undergo weekly kidney dialysis treatments.

The plaintiff, first hired by SEPTA in the summer of 2002 as a bus driver and later transferred to the position of cashier, says he is a diabetic suffering from end stage renal disease who requires kidney dialysis in order to stay alive.

Last fall, Abdullah gave a letter from his physician to various SEPTA representatives explaining his need to undergo dialysis treatments on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings.

The defendant, however, refused to work around the plaintiff’s schedule, the complaint alleges.

“SEPTA failed to engage Plaintiff in a good faith interactive process to discuss Plaintiff’s request for accommodation,” the lawsuit reads.

Abdullah, a member of the Transport Workers’ Union Local 234, claims that SEPTA has provided “split days off” to other union members who don’t have medical disabilities, and that it should have offered the same to the plaintiff.

Because his work schedule didn’t allow for dialysis treatment, Abdullah had approached his employer about the possibility of taking split days off, that is, splitting up his schedule so that he would be able to undergo dialysis treatment on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings.

Instead, the complaint says, SEPTA provided Abdullah with work hours from 4:55 a.m. to 1:25 p.m., a schedule that didn’t accommodate his medical treatments.

Not only did the defendant deny Abdullah’s request for special accommodation by insisting that the plaintiff use time under the Family and Medical Leave Act, but the agency subjected the man to disciplinary write-ups for taking time off to receive dialysis treatment, according to the lawsuit.

“SEPTA’s denial of Plaintiff’s request for accommodation has also resulted in detrimental impact on Plaintiff’s health and Plaintiff may be forced to discontinue his employment so as to avoid further detrimental impact on his health because of SEPTA’s refusal to provide him with the requested accommodation because of his disability,” the suit reads.

Abdullah accuses the mass transit agency of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.

The plaintiff seeks back pay, front pay, income losses, lost benefits, interest, litigation costs, compensatory damages and attorney’s fees.

He is being represented by Philadelphia attorney Olugbenga O. Abiona.

The suit was filed at the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

 

The federal case number is 2:13-cv-06426-CMR.

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