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EDVA CASE TO WATCH: Morrison v. Norfolk Southern

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(2:19-cv-00296-RAJ-DEM)

On June 3, 2019, William Morrison sued Norfolk Southern Railway Corporation in the Norfolk Division asserting claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act alleging that a job offer was withdrawn because of his weight.  The plaintiff alleges this action violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Within the Complaint, the plaintiff attributes his high body mass index to depression, but asserts that neither his weight nor his depression prevents him from performing the essential functions of the job he was offered.  You can read the Complaint here.

Whether railroads can refuse to hire employees based upon their weight is an issue being litigated throughout the country.  In Shell v. Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Company, Case No. 15-cv-11040 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 5, 2018), that court denied summary judgment on a similar claim.  The Eighth Circuit has also considered similar claims such as in Morriss v. BNSF Ry. Co., 817 F.3d 1104, 1105 (8th Cir. 2016).  And the District’s own Judge Rebecca Beach Smith considered these issues in granting a Motion to Dismiss in Sturgill v. Norfolk S. Ry. Co., No. 2:18cv566, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 36505, at *1 (E.D. Va. Mar. 6, 2019) (here).

It will be interesting to see whether this case survives a similar motion.  This is one we will keep an eye on.

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