§ 209.321 - Hearing.
(a) Upon receipt of a hearing request complying with § 209.311, an administrative hearing for review of a notice of proposed disqualification shall be conducted by a presiding officer, who can be any person authorized by the FRA Administrator, including an administrative law judge. The hearing shall begin within 180 days from receipt of respondent's hearing request. Notice of the time and place of the hearing shall be given to the parties at least 20 days before the hearing. Testimony by witnesses shall be given under oath and the hearing shall be recorded verbatim. The hearing shall be open to the public, unless the presiding official determines that it would be in the best interests of the respondent, a witness, or other affected persons, to close all or any part of it. If the presiding official makes such a determination, an appropriate order, which sets forth the reasons therefor, shall be entered.
(b) The presiding officer may:
(1) Administer oaths and affirmations;
(2) Issue subpoenas as provided by § 209.7;
(3) Adopt procedures for the submission of evidence in written form;
(4) Take or cause depositions to be taken as provided in § 209.8;
(5) Rule on offers of proof and receive relevant evidence;
(6) Examine witnesses at the hearing;
(7) Convene, recess, reconvene, adjourn, and otherwise regulate the course of the hearing;
(8) Hold conferences for settlement, simplification of the issues, or any other proper purpose; and
(9) Take any other action authorized by or consistent with the provisions of this subpart and permitted by law that may expedite the hearing or aid in the disposition of an issue raised therein.
(c) FRA has the burden of proof, by a preponderance of the evidence, as to the facts alleged in the notice of proposed disqualification, the reasonableness of the conditions of the qualification proposed, and, except as provided in § 209.329(a), the respondent's lack of fitness to perform safety-sensitive functions. The Chief Counsel may offer relevant evidence, including testimony, in support of the allegations contained in the notice of proposed disqualification and conduct such cross-examination as may be required for a full disclosure of the material facts.
(d) The respondent may appear and be heard on respondent's own behalf or through respondent's designated representative. The respondent may offer relevant evidence, including testimony, in defense of the allegations or in mitigation of the proposed disqualification and conduct such cross-examination as may be required for a full disclosure of the material facts. Respondent has the burden of proof, by a preponderance of the evidence, as to any affirmative defense, including that respondent's actions were in obedience to the direct order of a railroad supervisor or higher level official.
(e) The record shall be closed at the conclusion of the hearing, unless the parties request the opportunity to submit proposed findings and conclusions. When the presiding officer allows the parties to submit proposed findings and conclusions, documents previously identified for introduction into evidence, briefs, or other posthearing submissions the record shall be left open for such time as the presiding officer grants for that purpose.