FRSA Medical Treatment Provision Cases Part II

In my previous post, I discussed Section (c) of the FRSA, which prohibits railroads from interfering with the medical treatment plan of an employee. Since that blog was posted, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals overruled the decision of the Administrative Review Board in Grand Trunk Western Railroad Co. v. Williams. The Court joined the Third Circuit's interpretation of this provision of the FRSA and held that Section (c) of the statute only applies to treatment plans that are related to on-duty injuries.

There are two parts to Section (c) of the FRSA. Section (c)(1) states that a "railroad carrier...may not deny, delay, or interfere with the medical or first aid treatment of an employee who is injured during the course of employment." Section (c)(2) is more broadly worded, and does not contain language that limits its scope to injuries suffered during the course of employment. It provides that a "railroad carrier...may not discipline, or threaten discipline to, an employee for requesting medical or first aid treatment, or for following orders or a treatment plan of a treating physician..." Despite the differing language, the Sixth Circuit held that the two provisions should be read together, and that Section (c)(2) "flows from" Section (c)(1). The Court reasoned that the "purpose of subsection (c)(1) is to ensure employees receive prompt medical attention if they are injured on the job; the anti-retaliation provision, subsection (c)(2), effectuates that purpose by protecting medical treatment for work injuries."

The Court also noted that since the Third Circuit decided Bala, several other federal courts have also held that both parts of Section (c) apply only to on-duty injuries. See Stokes v. SEPTA; Murdock v. CSXT; Miller v. BNSF Ry. Co.; and Goad v. BNSF Ry. Co.

I will continue to provide updates on this issue as more courts weigh in; ultimately the issue will need to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

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