A former Amtrak employee has filed a federal complaint against the rail
agency claiming that he was unlawfully terminated from his job for reasons relating to a health condition.
James P. Rowan, of Chadds Ford, Delaware County, filed suit April 21 at the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against Amtrak, officially known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp., challenging his 2010 firing.
The plaintiff, who began his employment with Amtrak as part of crew management in the fall of 2008, had to start undergoing dialysis due to a kidney problem in August 2009, the record shows.
At the time, the defendant refused to accommodate Rowan’s dialysis schedule because the four-hour treatment would prevent the plaintiff from carrying out the essential parts of his job.
Rowan then began at home dialysis training from October through November 2009, which allowed him to go back to work and dialyze on his own time, according to the complaint.
He completed the home dialysis training in January 2010, once again requesting, through his physician, to return to work, indicating that there would be no constraint with respect to his ability to work his normal hours for Amtrak.
The defendant, however, refused to allow Rowan to return to work unless he underwent a physical examination and submitted to a urine drug test, the record shows.
The drug test requirement, the complaint says, was “gratuitous and retaliatory” since, by virtue of his condition, the plaintiff was unable to urinate.
Rowan was later told he’d have to return for another drug test, one he believed to be a blood, as opposed to a urine, test, but when he arrived at the clinic, he was forced to wait for three hours to take a urine test, according to the lawsuit.
Rowan was then told if he left before the three hours was up he would be terminated from his job.
Amtrak did subsequently end up firing the plaintiff.
“The way in which Plaintiff was treated by Defendant was retaliation by virtue of Plaintiff’s disability,” the complaint states.
The suit accuses Amtrak of disability discrimination and retaliation in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Amtrak is also accused of violating the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.
Rowan seeks injunctive relief along with damages for lost pay and benefits.
He also seeks punitive damages, litigation costs and legal fees.
The plaintiff is being represented by lawyers Timothy M. Kolman, Wayne A. Ely and W. Charles Sipio of the Penndel, Pa. firm Kolman Ely P.C.
The federal case number is 2:14-cv-02294-BMS.