May 2012 Archives

CDC Says Montana is Second-Most Dangerous State for Drivers

A recent analysis of Centers for Disease Control statistics indicates that Montana is the second-most dangerous state to drive in. Montana had 23.1 deaths per 100,000 residents in the period from 2007-2009. In 2007, 11.1 of these Montana deaths were related to drunk driving. Only Mississippi had more deaths (26.7) per 100,000 residents than Montana.

Another Short Statute of Limitations

Your deadline for appealing from any adverse action on your conductor certification is going to be 120 days. That's even shorter than the deadline for retaliation and discrimination. First you'll have a hearing before carrier operating department officials. Then the losing side can appeal to the FRA "Operating Crew Review Board," which conducts a review of written submissions by the parties and the issues a written decision. The side that loses before the Operating Crew Review Board can then request a formal evidentiary hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. That side that loses before the Administrative Law Judge can then seek review by the Federal Railroad Administrator.

BNSF Plans 140 New Hires

The Great Falls Tribune reports today that BNSF plans about 100 new hires around Montana, including 48 in Havre, 35 in Glendive, and 18 in Glasgow. The same article reports BNSF intends to replace 109,629 wood ties between Havre and Browning with concrete and perform significant undercutting and surfacing across the state. It also mentions "significant signal upgrades for federally mandated positive train control" (emphasis added). The National Transportation Safety Board, which investigates serious derailments and train collisions, has been recommending positive train control since before the fatal Ledger, Montana collision in 1991.

Montana, Other States, and John McCain File SCOTUS Briefs Urging Deference to Montana's Century-Old Campaign Finance Statute

As we reported earlier this year, the Montana Supreme Court ruled in December of 2011 that the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United decision did not invalidate Montana's 100-year-old statutory regulations on corporate campaign spending. Predictably, Western Tradition -- the plaintiff in the Montana case -- petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for certiorari (a form of discretionary appellate review). Western Tradition claims the Montana decision is so obviously wrong that the U.S. Supreme Court does not even need to consider briefing on the merits -- that the Montana decision should just be overturned summarily.

BNSF Backs Off Required Reporting of Off-Duty Medical Care

Earlier this year BNSF announced new Safety Rule S-26-3-1. The rule purported to require disclosure of private medical records and "fitness for duty" evaluations by BNSF's Medical and Environmental Health Department whenever employees were diagnosed with certain specified medical conditions or had certain specified medical events, including any kind of hospitalization and any kind of surgery, even if totally unrelated to the employee's work.  In fact, the rule expressly provided that it did not apply to on-duty injuries. The rule implicated Montana constitutional privacy issues. It may also have violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Montana Human Rights Act, both of which prohibit employers from using stereotypical assumptions about physical conditions to predict whether an employee with that condition can or cannot work safely.

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