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Disqualified for disabilities, railroad workers fight back

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  1. AugustusFerdinand

    After Terrence Hersey had a stroke on the way home from his railroad job in 2015, he underwent months of therapy to learn how to put words together in sentences and learn to walk again. He had to relearn how to get in and out of a car and how to dress himself before his doctors eventually cleared him to return to work with no restrictions.

    That recommendation wasn’t good enough for Union Pacific. The railroad decided after reviewing Hersey’s records — but without a doctor’s examination — that he was unfit for his job overseeing inspections of stationary railcars in Chicago because of the risk he would become incapacitated.

    Without his job, his car was repossessed. He lost his house. He had worked on the railroad for more than 20 years, and finding a job that paid as well as Union Pacific was hard for the 50-year-old Hersey, who now drives a school bus. For his current job, he’s had no problem passing an annual medical test to retain his commercial driver’s license.

    “I was a 20-year man and had worked my way up to being a supervisor and had some management opportunities that I could have reached out for. Now I’m making half the money I could make. It’s just like my whole world went upside down,” he said.