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Dispute in Workplace

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In November of 2004, Washington DC enacted a law to prevent the transport of hazardous materials (HAZMAT) through the District of Columbia. The HAZMAT referred to in this bill consists of various chemicals in numerous of forms. If used improperly they could indeed pose a threat to the public, but the chemicals are necessary to the health and well being of the general public. These chemicals are used to purify water, heat homes, generate electricity, and manufacture pharmaceuticals. This bill was created in an attempt to increase the safety of the city from terrorist actions. Unfortunately this legislation has spurred similar legislative action in other cities and is in direct conflict with federal law requiring the railroads to transport cargo for its customers (CSX, 2005)


Bill 16-77 was enacted in November of 2004 and CSX Transportation immediately acted to overthrow this law. In April of 2005 the district court focused on one of CSXT’s arguments and decided against the railroad (Times, 2005). CSX Transportation immediately appealed this decision contending that this ban infringed upon its Common Carrier responsibilities. If left to stand, CSXT believes that this law will encourage other cities to enact similar laws, which would virtually shut down all the railroads and much trucking in the continental United States. Numerous other city governments and one state government were closely monitoring this litigation and were proceeding with legislation to ban HAZMAT from their respective highways and railways (CSX, 2005). The DC law was also in direct conflict with “legal positions of the U.S. Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, and Transportation, and an order from the U.S. Surface Transportation Board declaring the District's law invalid” (CSX, 2005). Apparently the District of Columbia believed that the federal government had not made sufficient progress in ensuring the safety of HAZMAT shipments. The circuit court panel agreed with CSX Transportation and said “that the Department of Transportation had set up regulations to secure hazardous material shipments, and that the District of Columbia was simply complaining that the department had not gone far enough” and that “Disagreeing with the department's regulations isn't enough for the District to put its own rules in place” (Times, 2005). The panel went on to say that neither the lower court nor the District of Columbia has the authority or the ability to determine if actions taken by the DOT or Homeland Security are sufficient to ensure the safety of train traffic (Times, 2005). The appeals court also agreed with CSX Transportation that “the D.C. ban unreasonably burdens interstate commerce, particularly since it would spur other states and cities to enact similar bans, an idea being considered by Pittsburgh, Baltimore and the state of California, among others” (Times, 2005). The attorney general for the District of Columbia has not decided if the District

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