CSX FMLA Lawsuit: Staff Forced to Work Sick, Denied Family Leave

CSX Transportation

CSX Transportation Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Alleged Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Violations

A new class action lawsuit accuses CSX Transportation, Inc., a major freight railroad company in the United States, of violating the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The lawsuit alleges that CSX pressured employees to work through serious illnesses, miss significant family events, or choose between caring for sick loved ones and risking job security.

CSX Transportation, a subsidiary of CSX Corporation, is a Fortune 500 company and one of the leading Class I railroads in North America. Spanning 21,000 route miles across 23 eastern states, the District of Columbia, and two Canadian provinces, CSX employs a workforce of over 27,000 individuals who keep vital goods moving across the continent.

Allegations of Pressure to Work Through Illness and Miss Family Events

The lawsuit, filed by seven former CSX employees, acknowledges the demanding nature of the railroad industry, which often requires working weekends and holidays. However, the lawsuit contends that CSX allegedly went far beyond these expectations.

The plaintiffs allege that CSX fostered a culture that discouraged employees from taking legitimate FMLA leave, even for serious medical conditions or critical family needs. This allegedly resulted in employees:

  • Working while sick: The lawsuit claims employees felt pressured to come to work despite illness, potentially putting themselves and others at risk.

  • Missing family milestones: Employees who attempted to take FMLA leave for childbirth or to care for sick family members allegedly faced retaliation or difficulty securing leave.

  • Choosing between family and work: The lawsuit suggests that some employees were forced to prioritize work over family due to fear of job loss if they took legitimate FMLA leave.

Terminations Following the Holiday Season

The lawsuit states that after the 2017 holiday season, employees who had taken FMLA leave learned their "holiday gift" from CSX was a suspension or termination. All seven workers vehemently deny the company's claims of fraudulent leave, asserting their absences were legitimate and supported by proper documentation.

"CSX punished these employees without any evidence of fraud," the lawsuit argues. "On the contrary, these workers substantiated their entitlement to FMLA leave. CSX terminated or suspended them anyway."

This alleged purge is only part of the lawsuit's accusations. The suit goes further, claiming CSX engaged in a "brazen pattern and practice" of discouraging FMLA leave and retaliating against workers who used it. These tactics, the lawsuit alleges, extend beyond terminations.

Other Methods to Discourage FMLA Leave

The lawsuit details two additional ways CSX allegedly discouraged FMLA leave:

  • Inflated Leave Hours: The lawsuit claims that for overnight shift workers, even a short leave of absence, like 10 pm to 2 am, would be counted as two full days instead of a single eight-hour shift. This practice significantly inflated the amount of leave taken by employees.

  • Punitive Attendance System: The lawsuit argues that CSX's attendance point system unfairly penalizes employees who take FMLA leave. This allegedly creates a situation where "employees who have taken FMLA leave are treated more unfavorably than those who have not."

According to the lawsuit, these tactics by CSX have a clear purpose: "CSX's genuine motivations are crystal clear. Through its actions, CSX has sought to chill the lawful use of FMLA leave and punish workers who take it."

FMLA Requirements for Businesses

As per the lawsuit, the FMLA requires businesses to bear the costs of retaining a greater number of employees to cover all shifts, so that workers can take leave when it is necessary for them to do so. Of course, costs can be a lot for businesses like CSX, which runs twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. 

“By disregarding the FMLA’s clear mandate, CSX has saved significant sums of money by reducing its total workforce, limiting its employees’ lawful use of FMLA leave, and sending a clear message to the remaining employees: Take FMLA leave at your own peril,” the lawsuit alleges.

What To Do If You Suspect a FMLA Violation

The Department of Labor (DOL) is your primary resource for addressing FMLA violations. Here's how you can take action:

  • File a Complaint with the DOL: The Wage and Hour Division of the DOL oversees FMLA compliance. You can file a complaint in person, by mail, or by phone. Act swiftly - the sooner you file, the stronger your case.

  • Consider a Private Lawsuit: Consulting with an attorney is recommended to understand your legal options. You can file a lawsuit in federal or state court, depending on jurisdiction. There are time limits: typically two years, with an extension to three years for intentional violations (the court decides if the violation occurred and if it was intentional).

  • Seek Legal Advice, Especially for Public Employees: If you work for the government, your ability to file a private lawsuit may be restricted. Regardless, seeking legal guidance is crucial to navigate your options.

In the CSX wrongful termination class action lawsuit, the former workers want to represent other former employees and are suing to “restrain and enjoin CSX from engaging in a pattern and practice of punishing employees for taking FMLA leave and to recover damages caused by CSX’s unlawful retaliatory conduct.”

They are also seeking back pay, monetary relief, other compensatory relief, and injunctive and declaratory relief.

Case Details

  • Lawsuit: Click et al. v CSX Transportation, Inc.
  • Case Number: 3:24-cv-00451
  • Court: U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Jacksonville Division

Plaintiffs' Attorneys

  • Nicholas D. Thompson (Casey Jones Law)



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