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A Woburn man with Tourette Syndrome has won $25,000 in damages because Amtrak transit workers denied him full access to a public train by demanding he move to a non-air-conditioned commuter train car that exacerbated his illness. The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination awarded Steven Bachner the compensatory damages, because employees of Amtrak – which contracts with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority to operate commuter trains – failed to accommodate Bachner’s disability when he traveled this commuter line into Boston. The anti-discrimination board also ordered the MBTA to develop a plan for employees to accommodate people with Tourette Syndrome, which is characterized by involuntary verbal outbursts and body movements. According to the MCAD decision, the case dates began in 1991 when Bachner boarded the commuter train and had an outburst of inappropriate language, which is common to his condition. Before boarding and during the ride, he told Amtrak employees of potential outbursts related to the illness. Apparently reacting to another passenger’s discomfort with his behavior, the transit workers asked Bachner to leave the train he was on and enter a non-air-conditioned car. He warned them he suffered from severe heat intolerance, which soon made him ill in the train car he described, in the complaint, as “suffocatingly hot.” Subsequently, he left the train before reaching his destination and contacted the MBTA Office of Transportation Access, which provided him with transportation to his appointment in Boston. However, Bachner said his request that the MBTA investigate the incident was never responded to “despite repeated inquiries,” according to the MCAD complaint. Noting both “physical and emotional distress” suffered by Bachner, MCAD awarded him $25,000 in damages for emotional distress that caused “symptoms of the disability to worsen after the incident.” The board also gave MBTA 60 days to submit a training program for employees “concerning the legal requirement of accommodating passengers exhibiting symptoms of Tourette Syndrome.” Following MCAD’s acceptance of the plan, the board determined the MBTA must submit each year for three years evidence that its employees are being trained accordingly.

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