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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.

The April issue of the UTU News reports that BNSF has rescinded the rule after the UTU, the Sheet Metal Workers International Association, and other labor organizations filed complaints about it with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

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