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  • Asked to see cellphone

    I have a question no one can seem to answer and a lot of coworkers are asking. Do you have to let an official see your cellphone if they get on the engine and ask to see it? I've heard several say it's a violation of privacy act. I'm not sure as I'm not a lawyer just a dumbass engineer! Personally I turn mine off so it's not a problem but if you are asked and you refuse can you get in trouble? NOBODY seems to know!

  • #2
    Dear PapaBoy60 - Without doing any research, I would say that you can deny the request but could suffer a temporary (that could escalate) suspension. With terrorism as one of the factors that interplay in Federally regulated transportation, I believe the cell phone owner would be hard-pressed to assert a right of privacy defense. This would be especially true if it involved an Engineer on duty though the defense is not that strong for other classes of workers. Just my opinion as I, again, have not researched the issue.
    Steve Gordon
    Gordon, Elias & Seely, L.L.P.
    FELA Lawyer
    FELA Lawyer Blog
    Serving Injured Railroad Employees Nationwide
    Call for a FELA Lawyer 24/7/365
    800-773-6770

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    • #3
      Originally posted by FELA FELLA View Post
      Dear PapaBoy60 - Without doing any research, I would say that you can deny the request but could suffer a temporary (that could escalate) suspension. With terrorism as one of the factors that interplay in Federally regulated transportation, I believe the cell phone owner would be hard-pressed to assert a right of privacy defense. This would be especially true if it involved an Engineer on duty though the defense is not that strong for other classes of workers. Just my opinion as I, again, have not researched the issue.
      Thanks for your response. Although it still doesn't answer my question lol! But I understand you haven't done any research. The reason I can understand the privacy act is because it's not a company provided cellphone, it's your personal property. But I also understand you are at work on their property and if you had used your phone to contact a trainmaster or dispatcher etc while on duty I would see where they could request to see it just to check if you had turned it off after using it. Kind of a probable cause type thing I guess. But again I'm not a lawyer just an opinion! I guess it's one of those situations where it's going to have to happen to see where it goes. Haven't heard of any occurences where somebody refused to let them see their phone so I guess we really don't know! Again thanks for your response and if you should happen to find out more info please let me know! Just curious

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      • #4
        Originally posted by papaboy60 View Post
        I have a question no one can seem to answer and a lot of coworkers are asking. Do you have to let an official see your cellphone if they get on the engine and ask to see it? I've heard several say it's a violation of privacy act. I'm not sure as I'm not a lawyer just a dumbass engineer! Personally I turn mine off so it's not a problem but if you are asked and you refuse can you get in trouble? NOBODY seems to know!
        The proper answer is "I don't have a cellphone". The other reply you could use is "I don't have it with me". Even if you have one with you, it is illegal for ANYONE to search your phone. Password protect it and If they want data or information from your phone then the NTSB needs to subpoena your cellular phone records. Good luck getting that done without having a legitimate reason. A trainmaster getting a hard on isn't one of them.
        "I HAVE MADE MY FINAL POST ON THIS FORUM. MY THANKS TO A FEW WHO HAVE BEEN VERY HELPFULL, HOWEVER I AM NOT GOING TO WASTE MY VALUABLE REST, READING AND RESPONDING TO "US vs THEM" VITRIOLIC PEOPLE."

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        • #5
          Originally posted by JohnEasley View Post

          The proper answer is "I don't have a cellphone". The other reply you could use is "I don't have it with me". Even if you have one with you, it is illegal for ANYONE to search your phone. Password protect it and If they want data or information from your phone then the NTSB needs to subpoena your cellular phone records. Good luck getting that done without having a legitimate reason. A trainmaster getting a hard on isn't one of them.
          I agree! But if you tell them you don't have one you better not have used it to call a TM or RFE because there was a guy, a LC as a matter of fact, that called a TM, legit not moving, then later in the trip they got on the engine and asked for his phone. His reponse "I don't have it with me." DUH! I know they can't go through your phone but my question is do you have to show it to them, to prove it's off, if they get on the engine and ask for it?

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          • #6
            The only reply I have to John Easley is it is not illegal to ask to see the phone and if one said sure no problem and handed it over that would be consensual.
            Steve Gordon
            Gordon, Elias & Seely, L.L.P.
            FELA Lawyer
            FELA Lawyer Blog
            Serving Injured Railroad Employees Nationwide
            Call for a FELA Lawyer 24/7/365
            800-773-6770

            Comment


            • #7
              My response last time was..."I did not know that I was required to carry one."

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              • #8
                If I am required to carry one, shouldn't you provide me one?

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by FELA FELLA View Post
                  The only reply I have to John Easley is it is not illegal to ask to see the phone and if one said sure no problem and handed it over that would be consensual.
                  That is correct.
                  "I HAVE MADE MY FINAL POST ON THIS FORUM. MY THANKS TO A FEW WHO HAVE BEEN VERY HELPFULL, HOWEVER I AM NOT GOING TO WASTE MY VALUABLE REST, READING AND RESPONDING TO "US vs THEM" VITRIOLIC PEOPLE."

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by papaboy60 View Post

                    I agree! But if you tell them you don't have one you better not have used it to call a TM or RFE because there was a guy, a LC as a matter of fact, that called a TM, legit not moving, then later in the trip they got on the engine and asked for his phone. His reponse "I don't have it with me." DUH! I know they can't go through your phone but my question is do you have to show it to them, to prove it's off, if they get on the engine and ask for it?
                    I'm not sure what RR you work for however on BNSF, you can talk, text or email if you are stopped and you brief with your co-worker that you're using it. When not using the phone, it is to be turned off a stowed in your grip. They can still ask for it if they see it in plain sight but if it's stowed away, they've got nothing.

                    The railroad has a loose written rule that you are subject to search anytime while on railroad property including your car however I would love to have that as the Local Chairman in investigation. Any RR official that would press that issue is most likely a pile of shit looking to move up the company however I doubt anyone in Ft. Worth would be impressed.

                    So I guess the best answer for your question is YES, they can ask for it. If it's stowed in your grip or out of sight, the NO you can't search for it.
                    "I HAVE MADE MY FINAL POST ON THIS FORUM. MY THANKS TO A FEW WHO HAVE BEEN VERY HELPFULL, HOWEVER I AM NOT GOING TO WASTE MY VALUABLE REST, READING AND RESPONDING TO "US vs THEM" VITRIOLIC PEOPLE."

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                    • #11
                      hmm. Can they search your grip and carry-ons for other reasons? Doesn't the company usually reserve the right to check you and your vehicle, and all that may be in it, for alcohol, drugs and firearms when you arrive on the property?

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Dogbearbyter View Post
                        hmm. Can they search your grip and carry-ons for other reasons? Doesn't the company usually reserve the right to check you and your vehicle, and all that may be in it, for alcohol, drugs and firearms when you arrive on the property?
                        I think we're opening up something that usually isn't even discussed. They have rules written about drugs and firearms on the property however I would suspect they would have to see it in plain sight as no one in their right mind would allow a search by anyone, Police included. If there is no probable cause for search, and that includes by the railroad, then there is no way someone needs to subject themselves to one. If one was removed from service because of it, they better have a pretty strong case on why they required one.

                        In my time here and as many people as I know throughout the system, I have never heard of an actual search of anyones bags or person.
                        "I HAVE MADE MY FINAL POST ON THIS FORUM. MY THANKS TO A FEW WHO HAVE BEEN VERY HELPFULL, HOWEVER I AM NOT GOING TO WASTE MY VALUABLE REST, READING AND RESPONDING TO "US vs THEM" VITRIOLIC PEOPLE."

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by JohnEasley View Post

                          I'm not sure what RR you work for however on BNSF, you can talk, text or email if you are stopped and you brief with your co-worker that you're using it. When not using the phone, it is to be turned off a stowed in your grip. They can still ask for it if they see it in plain sight but if it's stowed away, they've got nothing.

                          The railroad has a loose written rule that you are subject to search anytime while on railroad property including your car however I would love to have that as the Local Chairman in investigation. Any RR official that would press that issue is most likely a pile of shit looking to move up the company however I doubt anyone in Ft. Worth would be impressed.

                          So I guess the best answer for your question is YES, they can ask for it. If it's stowed in your grip or out of sight, the NO you can't search for it.
                          I work for NS and we have the same policy as far as using the phone goes. I know they can ask for it but as far as NS goes do you have to give it to them? Pretty sure they can't search your bags cause we supposedly had a TM get in trouble for doing that.So I guess you could say "It's in my bag and no you can't search it!" There are just so many ifs I guess there's really not a straight answer to the question. Just like any other gray area rule we have it's left up to interpretation! Ask 5 different people and get 5 different opinions! Thanks for the responses!

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Dogbearbyter View Post
                            hmm. Can they search your grip and carry-ons for other reasons? Doesn't the company usually reserve the right to check you and your vehicle, and all that may be in it, for alcohol, drugs and firearms when you arrive on the property?
                            Alabama state law supercedes the law about firearms on property. No you still can't carry it on the train but you can have it in your car.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by papaboy60 View Post
                              I guess you could say "It's in my bag and no you can't search it!"
                              By saying this, you acknowledge you have a phone, you acknowledge they asked to see it, and you denied their request. When it is over, you have your phone and your bag. They have their insubordination charge.
                              ---

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