Gaithersburg: 301-670-7030
Baltimore: 410-769-5400
Frederick: 301-668-2100
Contact Us For Legal Help

Railroad Injury Blog

Court Confirms That Denial Of Treatment Is Discrimination Under The FRSA

Monday, October 22, 2012

On October 11, 2012, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, in the case of Delgado v. Union Pacific Railroad Company, 2012 WL 4854588 (N.D.Ill.), confirmed that the denial of medical treatment to an injured railroader is discrimination, and therefore subject to a private cause of action, under the FRSA.

Section 20109(c)(1) indicates as follows:

(1) Prohibition. – A railroad carrier or person covered under this section may not deny, delay, or interfere with the medical or first aid treatment of an employee who is injured during the course of employment. If transportation to a hospital is requested by an employee who is injured during the course of employment, the railroad shall promptly arrange to have the injured employee transported to the nearest hospital where the employee can receive safe and appropriate medical care.

There is little dispute that under the FRSA, an injured railroader cannot be disciplined or threatened with discipline for “requesting medical or first aid treatment, or for following orders or a treatment plan of a treating physician.” Numerous OSHA decisions have confirmed that protection. The question arose in the Delgado case whether “discrimination” concerning the provision of medical care is covered under the FRSA. The U.S District Court determined that it is.

The pertinent facts regarding the case are as follows: On October 14, 2010, Delgado injured his foot on a rusty piece of scrap metal. He immediately requested that two co-workers take him to a nearby hospital. On the way to the hospital, Delgado phoned his foreman and indicated that he had been injured and that he was going to the hospital. A short time later, and prior to arriving at the hospital, Delgado was instructed by his foreman to immediately return to the railroad’s administrative building. Delgado complied. Upon arrival at the administrative building, Delgado’s injury was assessed by a railroad official. Delgado was then directed to not go to the hospital but to the railroad’s on-site company clinic. At the clinic Delgado was examined, given medication and instructed to stay off his foot.

The Court determined that there was clear evidence that indicated that the railroad had denied, delayed, or interfered with his medical treatment. Because there was no dispute that Delgado had not been discharged or disciplined for seeking medical treatment, the question arose whether he had private cause of action against the railroad. The Court determined that he did because he had been “discriminated” against for seeking the treatment.

Section 20109(d)(1) indicates as follows regarding enforcement of the protections under the FRSA:

(1) In general. – – An employee who alleges discharge, discipline, or other discrimination in violation of subsection(a), (b) or (c) of this section, may seek relief in accordance with the provisions of this section, with any petition or other request for relief under this section to be initiated by filing a complaint with Secretary of Labor.

The Court in explaining its decision determining that the denial of medical treatment as discrimination stated as follows:

“The Court has no difficulty in construing the denial of medical treatment as discrimination against an employee who may potentially disclose a hazardous condition at the work site. Indeed, and as adverted above, denying medical treatment may often constitute a far more significant form of discrimination against an injured employee than would an after-the-fact disciplinary action. Seeking medical treatment for a workplace injury is likely, if not almost certain, to lead to the disclosure of the hazard that caused the injury and, in that light, a carrier’s efforts to “deny, delay, or interfere” with an injured employee’s pursuit of medical treatment can easily be understood to constitute a form of discrimination, and retaliation, against such an employee.”

The Court went on to indicate:

“The Court therefore concludes that Section 20109 provides a private right of enforcement to an employee, like Delgado, who alleges that a railroad carrier violated the provisions of subsection

(c )(1) by denying, delaying, or interfering with the medical or first aid treatment of an employee injured during the course of employment.”

So there you have it. It is now clear that the FRSA treats a railroad’s denial of medical treatment to an injured employee as prohibited act of discrimination that is subject to a private cause of action.

By Matt Darby

Recent Posts




What Our Clients Say

Known for our unwavering commitment to clients, for our integrity, and for delivering the best results, our clients continue to refer their friends, families and neighbors to us for their legal needs.

"One year ago today I made the call to your office. The best decision I could make. I wanted to share with you how impressed I am with your staff and your professionalism."

Heather P.

"Craig did a great job representing me! He's the lawyer I have trusted with my legal needs because he's professional, knowledgeable, and keeps me informed about my case."

Jaclyn K.

" wanted to thank you, in writing, for your kindness and prompt response. Customer service is a dying art, and you gave me hope for my family."


"I would like to express my gratitude for your efforts and dedication for my disability case. It's has been quite a long and upsetting process but you have handled my case in an extremely competent and responsible manner."

Leo H.

"I have recommended Mr. Feldman to several of my friends and colleagues and have heard nothing but excellent reviews. He is the best lawyer I have ever used."


"I received the check today. I could not believe it until I saw the check. Thank you so much. You have improved my family's quality of life tenfold."

Mike F.

"These guys go above and beyond! They always have your best interest in mind."

Mike W.

"I would like to express my thanks to Amanda Knott and Gretchen Rogers for their patience with me through my ordeal with my workers comp claim. I was impressed from the very beginning when I spoke with G. Rogers on the phone and although she did not have to, she met with me personally and walked me through the steps of what to expect in this process."

Mr Sagal

"You have been kind throughout this process and I appreciate your professionalism as well as your gentle concern. Thanks for helping us and all the others who need your legal expertise. We are grateful."

Nancy F.

"Thanks to Mr. Shultz's aggressive and professional work ethic style I was able to receive the medical services and compensation pertaining to my case."

Navdeep C.

"I can honestly say this firm is simply TOP NOTCH! They not only have handled countless cases for my members that require their services, they also have gone well beyond their "scope" to help some of my folks in other areas of need. "

Rick H.

"I wanted to compliment your law firm on having Amanda Knott as a paralegal. She worked tirelessly for almost 2 years making sure I understood what was happening and at the same time keeping all my records straight and in order, which allowed Gretchen Rogers to represent me in the best way possibl"

Terrye G

"The attention and professional care the staff has taken toward my needs has always been excellent. I have no complaints nor worries that my issues discussed are not addressed."

Tim T.

"I just got off the phone with Craig and let him know how thankful we are to you, him and Ken for all your efforts – you are all really terrific to work with!"

Val K.

Locations Throughout Maryland & Washington DC

Gaithersburg Office

481 N. Frederick Avenue, Suite 300
Gaithersburg, MD 20877
301-670-7030 / 800-248-3352
Fax: 301-670-9492

Lutherville Office

1301 York Road, Suite 600
Lutherville, MD 21093
410-769-5400 / 800-248-3352
Fax: 410-769-9200

Frederick Office

30 W. Patrick Street, Suite 105
Frederick, MD 21701
301-668-2100 / 800-827-2667
Fax: 301-668-2000