A railroad failed to reasonably accommodate a hearing-impaired conductor who was terminated, a federal appeals court said Monday, in reversing a lower court decision and reinstating his claim for disability.
Mark Mlsna, who had experienced hearing loss since his youth was hired by Omaha-based Union Pacific Railroad Co. 2006, when he had used hearing aids for more than ten years, according to the decision of the 7th American Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago Mark Mlsna v. Union Pacific Railroad Co.
In 2012, the Federal Railroad Administration implemented rules to ensure that leaders had hearing sharpness and to confirm that railways adequately protected and preserved the hearing of their workers.
Mr. The devices were tested both with hearing aids and without the use of a reinforced hearing protection device called "Pro Ears-Gold", the decision said.
Mr. Mlsna did not pass the test without his hearing aids and without hearing protection, nor did he pass the audiological test with Pro-Ears-Gold. Rather, he only passed when he relied on his hearing aids without additional hearing protection.
Mr. Mlsna suggested that he use a special custom hearing protection device, but Union Pacific rejected the proposal because the device did not have a factory-issued or laboratory-tested noise-reducing rating under the Federal Regulation. The railway refused to certify Mr Mlsna as leader and his employment was terminated.
Mr. The plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Madison, Wisconsin, alleging violations of the Disability Act. The district court granted the summary judgment on the railway which dismissed the case and ruled that Mlsna had "failed to gather sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to conclude that he could perform the essential functions" in his job with a reasonable adjustment. was heard by a unanimous panel of three judges for appeal. The parties did not question Mr Mlsna had the necessary background experience and knowledge to work as a train conductor, that his hearing impairment is a qualified disability according to the ADA, nor that his disability was the reason why he was not certified, the decision said.
"The dispute is whether Mlsna can perform the essential functions of the position of train conductor with or without reasonable accommodation," it said. which also meets the requirements of the hearing protection regulation, "said the decision.
" There is no lack of equipment but published noise reduction rates that can be considered as possible accommodation for Mlsna's disabilities, regardless of whether it is the one he proposed. or others, it said.
“The document reveals another factual question on this point. Union Pacific told Mlsna that it conducted a "comprehensive search" for adaptable devices, but the discovery showed that no such search occurred, "the decision states.
" Because there are real factual questions about whether Union Pacific reasonably accommodates Mlsna's hearing. disability, Union Pacific should not have received a summary judgment, "said the decision in reconsideration of the case for further proceedings.
The plaintiff's attorney, Adam Hansen, of Apollo Law LLC in Minneapolis, said in a statement," Disabled Americans can contribute in the workplace just like everyone else. That was the message and promise of Congress as it passed the ADA. We are pleased that the Seventh Circuit recognized that principle when it confirmed Mr Mlsna's statement.
Railway lawyers did not respond to a request for comment.