Conductor Blames Machine for Miscarriage

MANHATTAN (CN) – A train conductor says Metro-North Railroad made her wear a “ticket issuing machine” despite her complaints that she feared it would harm her unborn child. She says she did suffer a miscarriage, and boss insisted she continue wearing the machine, though her doctor warned that it might harm her ability to conceive again.

Gina DiFrancesco says that she was given the ticket issuing machine (TIM) in August 2008, though she calls it ineffective. “[The] TIM reduces the conductor’s ability to sell tickets to passengers aboard the train, and this has resulted in a reduction of revenue for Metro-North,” she says in her complaint in New York County Court.
DiFrancesco says that because each machine cost “approximately $2,500,” the company made employees use it “solely to justify its poor decision to invest money” in the expensive things.
She says she “was afraid that the emission from the machine would affect either her ability to get pregnant or the fetus if she did become pregnant.”
She says the FCC approved the use of a holster to protect wearers from emissions, but Metro-North did not use it or give any safety information for pregnant women.
In January this year, she says her physician told her to stop wearing the TIM, but her supervisors threatened to fire her if she did.
She continued to wear it until April, when her doctor told her she was pregnant. Later that month, she found out that another conductor who wore the TIM had suffered a miscarriage, and she too miscarried, a month later, according to the complaint says.
DiFrancesco says she returned to work in July and wrote a letter asking again to be excused from wearing the TIM because she was planning to conceive again.
“This reasonable accommodation would not affect plaintiff’s job performance as a conductor, but in fact, permit her to work faster, because the TIM actually interfered with her job performance,” the complaint states.
Metro-North never responded to the letter, she says. She says her bosses retaliated by threatening to assign her physically intense yard duties that would have required her to wear a radio around her waist and return home for a “dangerous” early morning commute at 2 a.m.
She says she was fired before Labor Day weekend to “inflict maximum punishment in retaliation for her continued requests.”
She seeks damages for employment discrimination and retaliation. She is represented by Steven Barkan.

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