INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — Two rail labor organizations have jointly filed a lawsuit to overturn a New Jersey law that prohibits New Jersey Transit locomotive engineers from running trains if their personal driver’s license is suspended.
According to the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, the law is preempted by a federal law, the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008, and also by existing Federal Railroad Administration requirements for engineers.
The unions argue that federal law already requires safety checks and regular re-checks on locomotive engineers’ personal driving records, and that in the case of a reported substance abuse disorder federal laws mandate counseling and/or treatment for locomotive engineers.
The New Jersey law, which was signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie in August 2016, prohibits a person whose driver’s license has been suspended due to substance abuse from operating a locomotive or train provided by New Jersey Transit or another railroad.
The BLET and the Transportation Division of SMART filed the lawsuit on Jan. 9.