Balancing the Need for Safety with Employees’ Right to Privacy

Consider the following passage:

“As investigators and transportation officials try to determine why a [train was traveling at 106 mph before crashing on a curve with a speed limit of 50 mph], the incident has raised questions about how much employers should know about their employees’ mental health.”

It appears to be a sound bite pertaining to the Amtrak train crash this past Tuesday.

But it’s actually taken and modified from this source:

As investigators and transportation officials try to determine why a young airline pilot with a history of depression might have deliberately crashed a Germanwings plane into the French Alps last week, the incident has raised questions about how much employers should know about their employees’ mental health.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/after-airline-tragedy-new-focus-on-mental-health-at-work-1427918253

Attention is falling on the train’s engineer, Brandon Bostian. And I mean heavily so. Some of the postings are downright hateful. See for instance, #4 below:

There’s worse stuff out there.

Who is Brandon Bostian? What do we know about him? One source provides the following:

And another:

Bostian used social media:

There are references comparing Bostian to Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz.

For instance: Was Brandon Bostian, Philadelphia Amtrak 188 Engineer Doing A Germanwings?

One thing is clear. There is no way to escape the close scrutiny in which every nook and cranny will be examined and no rock left unturned.

Recall the scrutiny that befell Metro-North engineer William Rockefeller? He dozed off before the train approached a sharp curve and derailed. No criminal charges were filed against him. It turns out that he had an undiagnosed sleep disorder:

The engineer, William Rockefeller, who was later found to have obstructive sleep apnea, nodded off as the train approached one of the sharpest curves in the region’s rail system at 82 miles per hour. The speed limit through the curve was 30 m.p.h.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/15/nyregion/no-charges-for-engineer-in-2013-fatal-metro-north-derailment.html?partner=socialflow&smid=tw-nytnational&_r=0

This tragedy will command center stage in the news for some time. Bits and pieces of information will emerge, and we have to careful as to how much weight we give the different sources and how valid they are.

 

Roy

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