Union Sued by Disabled Electrician for Discrimination

An upstate New York chapter of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) is being sued by a longtime member claiming that their “100% return-to-work” policy discriminates against him and his fellow disabled electricians.

John Egan has been a member of Local 163 of the IBEW since 1988, according to the complaint. Egan claims that, since 2000, he has frequently performed supervisory and foreman duties as well as journeyman electrical work.

According to the complaint, in January 2015 Egan was injured at work when he fell on ice and broke several ribs. He claims the ribs did not completely heal and he was “limited from lifting items more than then lbs. because of the breakage in his ribs.” He has submitted doctors’ notes to the union supporting this claim.

Egan claims he is able to perform foreman duties that include supervising other electricians and does not include heavy lifting. Pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between Local 163 and area contractors, no member will be put on the hiring hall’s job list unless they are “‘100% healthy’ or capable of performing all of the duties of a Journeyman electrician.”

Egan claims that this policy violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in that it does not provide for reasonable accommodations of his disability or allow for the interactive process by which accommodations can be made. “Application of such a policy is a per se violation of the ADA’s requirement on considering a reasonable accommodation of the job duties.”

Egan also claims that Local 163’s policy of requiring all members to be “100% healthy” and his being ineligible to be placed on the job list has amounted to a constructive discharge, forcing him to retire and preventing him from working.

Egan seeks compensatory and punitive damages and injunctive relief modifying the union’s policy. He is represented by Michael Ranis of Goshen who brought the case in the Southern District of New York.