Wilhelm v. CSX Transportation, Inc., 2011

An asthmatic employee who is a former smoker sued his employer, alleging that the company violated the Federal Employer’s Liability Act, 45 U.S.C. § 51 et seq. and discriminated against him in violation of Ohio Rev. Code Ann. §4112.02 by failing to enforce the employer’s no-smoking policy.  Twice, exposure to heavy amounts of secondhand cigarette smoke at the workplace forced him to suffer an asthma attack that required emergency medical care.  The court granted the employer’s motion for summary judgment because the employer failed to provide factual support for his claims.  The court found that the plaintiff “here has provided no evidence of the harmful effects of second-hand smoke.”  Under FELA, the plaintiff could have met his burden of proof by either: “1) providing direct evidence about unsafe air quality at the Walbridge terminal; or 2) asking me to take judicial notice of the hazardous nature of secondhand smoke.  Having done neither, plaintiff has left the record without a foundation for determining that second-hand cigarette smoke at the Walbridge terminal created an unsafe work environment.”