Wilhelm v. CSX Transportation, Inc.

An employee with asthma sued his employer for failing to maintain a safe work environment by not enforcing its workplace smoking policy and for discriminating against him based on his disability. The company had a policy prohibiting smoking in the terminal buildings and locomotive cabs. The employee argued that the policy was not enforced and, as a result, he was exposed to secondhand cigarette smoke in the workplace on a daily basis, which caused at least two asthma attacks requiring emergency medical care. Because the employer did not dispute that the employee was disabled, the court assumed that he had met his burden in this area. Nevertheless, the court found that all of the employee’s claims failed. Because the employee did not provide evidence that secondhand smoke on the premises is a health hazard (such as scientific studies on the harmful effects of secondhand smoke), he was unable to show that secondhand smoke exposure created an unsafe work environment. The court found that the employee’s disability discrimination claims also failed because being ostracized and teased by his co-workers and supervisors did not constitute an adverse employment action (such as being demoted or fired). Additionally, the court found no evidence that the employer failed to enforce its smoking policy because of the employee’s disability.


Wilhelm v. CSX Transp. Inc., 169 F.Supp.2d 755 (N.D. Ohio 2001).

  • United States
  • Sep 20, 2001
  • U.S. District Court, N.D. Ohio, Western Division


Plaintiff Keith T. Wilhelm

Defendant CSX Tranportation, Inc.

Legislation Cited

Federal Employer's Liability Act

Ohio Revised Code section 4112.02 (unlawful discriminatory practices)

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