Heritage Railroad Failed to Adequately Assess Accommodation for Applicant, Federal Agency Charged

DENVER - Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad (C&TS) has agreed to conciliate a disability discrimination charge with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

An applicant for the position of brakeman filed a discrimination charge with the EEOC's Denver Field Office alleging that he was subjected to discrimination due to his disability. The charge claimed that C&TS failed to conduct an individualized assessment on whether he could perform the essential functions of the position with or without a reasonable accommodation for his disability. Such an individualized assessment is required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Upon receipt of the charge, the EEOC investigated and determined that a violation of the ADA had occurred.

Once the charge was filed, C&TS cooperated with the EEOC investigation and agreed to a financial settlement for the aggrieved individual and to provide ADA training for all its employees, both in Colorado and New Mexico, for the next three years. In addition, to ensure members of its management would be held responsible for EEO compliance, C&TS agreed to create a performance-based system that would become part of their management's annual performance appraisal.

"We applaud the railroad for working with us when this issue was brought to its attention," said Phoenix District Director Elizabeth Cadle. "We are pleased with the resolution."

Chama, N.M.-headquartered C&TS is a narrow-gauge heritage railroad running for 64 miles between Antonito, Colo., and Chama. Originally part of the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad's narrow-gauge network, the line has been jointly owned by the states of Colorado and New Mexico since 1970.

In fiscal year 2017, 84,254 workplace discrimination charges were filed nationwide with the EEOC. 26,838 (31.9 percent) of those charges alleged disability discrimination.

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