The Third Circuit Court of Appeals, reversed the ARB decision, which protected a workers right to follow doctors's orders. This was one of the 13 ways of triggering the Whistleblower protections of the Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA). You can download the decision here.
Bala vs PATH was the 2013 decision that prevented a carrier from disciplining an employee who was following doctors orders, regardless of whether the underlying condition was work related or not.
The reversal means that in those courts within the Third Circuit, only a doctor note pertaining to an on the job injury gives protection to the employee.
Concussion at home when something falls from the garage shelf, making you dizzy? Not excused.
Stomach bug has you throwing up? Not excused.
These absences can still be counted for purposes of attendance policies. This means that workers can be disciplined for absences when they follow a doctor's order not to return to work. This will have long term ramifications as well as immediate.
Worker's currently suing the railroad in the affected courts for such an issue could see their whole cases invalidated.
Response one: Is the health issue a safety hazard?
Response two: Is the underlying health issue related to work?