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CSX employees protest job loss after using sick leave

January 04, 2018 04:55 PM

Happy New Year. You're fired. That's how several dozen CSX employees started 2018 after they called out sick over the Christmas holiday.

Calling out on Christmas may look suspect, but some of the workers claim they really were dealing with medical conditions and should still have their jobs.

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The rail transportation company is a 365 days a year business.  Employees are needed on all major holidays, but they know that comes with the territory.

Some workers say what they never anticipated was having to miss the birth of children, birthdays, or even their own wedding rehearsal dinners because they couldn't get a day off.

Many have relied on the Family Medical Leave Act for sick time. Signed into law in 1993, FMLA requires employers to provide job-protected, unpaid leave for qualified medical or family reasons.

However, dozens of area CSX workers say their job protection was violated when after taking FMLA days over the Christmas holiday, they were fired. Though that's not what CSX is saying just yet. Letters sent to employees ask them to attend an investigation into alleged FMLA violations.

Sam Nasca, the state director for The United Transportation Union, told NewsChannel 13's Jerry Gretzinger that CSX is accusing 32 employees of major FMLA violations and that each individual will be subject to an investigation and formal hearing. However, he calls it a kangaroo court and says it's likely these workers have already lost their jobs.

While the union is preparing its next move and employees contact lawyers, CSX responded to NewsChannel 13's calls with this statement:

"CSX recently experienced an extremely high number of unscheduled absences among employees over the Christmas holiday and the company is reviewing those absences internally. CSX recognizes and respects employees' rights under the Family Medical Leave Act and does not comment on individual personnel matters."

Further complicating things is that starting January 1, New York State increased worker benefits under FMLA, requiring companies give workers paid leave. There's concern among the targeted employees that as a result, CSX wanted to eliminate those with a history of using FMLA.

Workers are afraid to be identified -- still hopeful to get their jobs back, but have provided letters exchanged with the company.

Credits

WNYT Staff

Copyright 2018 - WNYT-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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