Nov 26, 2019 3:17 PM

Judge upholds reinstatement of fired train engineer

Posted Nov 26, 2019 3:17 PM

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A judge who disagreed with an arbitration board’s decision that a fired train engineer should be reinstated has upheld the board’s ruling.

Union Pacific had sued the employee union to overturn the board’s order to put Matthew Lebsack back on the job. The lawsuit says Lebsack walked past the locomotive cab bathroom on Nov. 20, 2016, when the train was stopped. It says he left the locomotive and defecated on the metal knuckle that connected the locomotive to a rail car.

The Lincoln Journal Star reports that U.S. District Court Judge Brian Buescher said in his Thursday ruling that he didn’t understand why the board didn’t think Lebsack’s conduct was worthy of upholding his termination.

But Buescher also said the law doesn’t let him consider the merits of the arbitration board's decision, but only whether that decision fell within its discretion under the provisions of railroad-union contract. He says Union Pacific presented no evidence showing the board’s decision was not within its discretion.

Officials say the railroad hasn’t decided whether to appeal.