A former SEPTA worker says his supervisor wrongfully labeled him "accident-prone" as
grounds for his termination, according to a lawsuit filed at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Russell King, of Philadelphia, says that his employer's action violates the Federal Railroad Safety Act. He seeks compensatory damages for medical expenses, mental anguish and emotional distress, plus recovery of lost wages and benefits and the expunging of disciplinary actions relating to the accidents.
According to the complaint, King was riding a SEPTA high-rail work truck in May 2011 when it was struck by another SEPTA truck which suffered a brake failure. After the accident, the faulty truck's brakes were serviced and repaired and placed back into the field.
However, the complaint says, just a few months later King was driving the same truck when the brakes failed again, striking the back of another truck. After the second accident, SEPTA management called in a group of seven employees connected in some way to the second accident, including King.
The supervisors announced during the meeting that they held everybody present responsible for the accident. That decision meant a second disciplinary note would be placed in King's file in just three months. King's employment was terminated after the meeting for being involved in two accidents in fewer than two years, thus labeled accident-prone.
An investigation into the truck showed that the brakes had failed again, the claim says, and a few weeks later a SEPTA supervisor proposed to reinstate King if the plaintiff accepted a demotion with lower pay. King accepted the offer, but still faces the possibility of termination if he is involved in another accident.
King is represented by James Duckworth of Keller & Goggin, P.C., in Philadelphia.
The federal case ID number is 2:14-cv-04493-GP.