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Comp exclusive remedy does not apply in federal bias case


A federal appeals court has denied a bid by a transit agency to dismiss a lawsuit by an injured worker who claims he was hurt after being forced to work an overnight shift, despite seeking accommodations for a sleep disorder.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled on Wednesday that a disability discrimination lawsuit initiated by Bilal Abdul Wadud Collins against the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority can proceed.

Mr. Collins is suing his employer over claims that the transit authority violated the Rehabilitation Act when it denied his request for accommodation due to his sleep disorder.

Mr. Collins claims he was forced to work a midnight shift and that he hurt his back shortly thereafter.

The transit authority sought to dismiss the suit, arguing that exclusive remedy under Virginia’s workers compensation law requires injured workers to obtain relief through the state’s Workers’ Compensation Commission.

Mr. Collins already received a comp award after his injury.

The appeals court denied the transit authority’s motion to dismiss the case on the grounds that the litigation is not a tort suit, which would have been barred by exclusive remedy, but rather a federal anti-discrimination case.

The court said that a state law making recovery under workers comp the exclusive remedy for work-related injuries cannot prevent an employee from seeking relief for employment discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.