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Union Pacific has filed a lawsuit defending its right to fire an engineer who defecated on a train car.

According to the suit filed last week in U.S. District Court, the engineer was terminated after admitting that during a November 2016 train stop he defecated on a knuckle connecting a locomotive and box car, threw feces-covered tissue out the window of the locomotive and then later informed his manager that he left a "present." In addition, he also twice extended his middle finger to a security camera on the train.

The suit said that the engineer admitted to all of the allegations during a January 2017 investigatory hearing and said he was willing to accept "full and complete responsibility for his actions."

A week after the hearing, the railroad terminated the engineer under a rule that prohibits conduct that is "negligent, insubordinate, dishonest, immoral, quarrelsome or discourteous."

The union representing the engineer, the International Association of Sheet Metal Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers-Transportation Division, appealed the termination. Union Pacific subsequently denied the appeal, and the matter was sent to an arbitration panel.

In December, the arbitrator issued a final ruling that said the termination was "excessive discipline," and that the railroad should have required the engineer to undergo a medical and psychological evaluation and then discipline him if he was found fit for duty.

UP argues in its suit that the arbitrator exceeded his authority because what he proposes is not required under existing labor agreements and would have the effect of changing the existing agreement and making a new rule regarding working conditions.

The railroad is seeking to have the arbitrator's finding set aside, payment of its court costs and, "any other relief the court deems just and proper."

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Reach the writer at 402-473-2647 or molberding@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LincolnBizBuzz.

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Business editor/reporter

Matt Olberding is a Lincoln native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate who has been covering business for the Journal Star since 2005.

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