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Total Articles: 11

1.6M EEOC Settlement Highlights Dangers of Making Assumptions About Employees’ Use of Medications

The EEOC entered into a Consent Decree on November 15, 2016, settling a case alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act for $1.6 million. The EEOC claimed that the employer took adverse actions against applicants and employees with actual or perceived disabilities on the basis that the employer believed the individuals posed safety threats. However, according to EEOC, those actions were taken without actually assessing the individual’s ability to perform the required tasks. One of the plaintiffs, for example, was not hired after the employer learned that she took medication for a traumatic brain injury. Click here to read the full article.

Employer’s Honest Belief That Employee Could Not Perform Job Due to Use of Opioid Medications Did Not Constitute Disability Discrimination

An employer’s decision to bypass an employee for a position based on the employee’s use of opioids was not enough to prove the employee’s disability discrimination claim, according to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Ferrari v. Ford Motor Company, Case No. 15-1479 (6th Cir. June 23, 2016). The Court affirmed summary judgment in favor of the employer on the employee’s disability discrimination claims, as well as his Family and Medical Leave Act retaliation claim.

Failure to Hire DOT Driver After Positive Drug Test Result Leads To ADA Claim

A South Carolina company that hauls gasoline, diesel fuel and ethanol throughout the country will face an Americans with Disabilities Act suit brought by a rejected DOT driver applicant with a sleep disorder for which he was prescribed an amphetamine (Dexedrine), the U.S. Court of Appeals in Richmond has decided, reversing a lower’s court’s dismissal of John Lisotto’s lawsuit. Lisotto v. New Prime, Inc., 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 8011 (4th Cir., No. 15-1273, decided May 3, 2016) (not officially reported).

Employee Terminated Upon Return to Work After Alcohol Treatment Could Proceed With Claims Against Employer

An employee terminated immediately upon his return from medical leave for alcohol rehabilitation presented sufficient evidence of discrimination under the Family and Medical Leave Act, Americans with Disabilities Act and Ohio state law to present his case to a jury, according to a federal court in Ohio. The employer claimed that the employee had been terminated for misappropriating company goods, but e-mail exchanges between several supervisors discussing Plaintiff’s alcoholism, as well as the timing of his termination, could show pretext. Lankford v. Reladyne, LLC, 32 AD Cases 959 (S.D. Ohio Nov. 19, 2015).

Do I or Don't I?—Alcoholism and Accommodations in the Workplace

Any college football fan can attest that this has been quite the year for upsets. As interesting as the on-field action has been, we have seen increasing media attention and fan commentary focused on the action off the field—especially on the activities of college football coaches and players.

Deaf Employee Who Was Fired For Positive Drug Test Result Could Not Show Disability Discrimination

A deaf employee who tested positive for hydrocodone – but could not produce a prescription for the drug – was not discriminated against due to his disability when his employer fired him. Phillips v. PPG Industries, Inc., Case No. 5:14-CV-1274 (N.D. Alabama Nov. 24, 2015).

EEOC Sues Employer Who Allegedly Refused to Hire Methadone User

In the last three years, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed numerous lawsuits against employers who take adverse actions against applicants and employees who use prescription medications. In accordance with that trend, EEOC filed suit on November 3, 2015 against an employer who purportedly refused to hire a recovering drug addict using methadone, alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). EEOC v. Randstad, US, LP, 1:15-cv-03354 (D. MD. Nov. 3, 2015).

Alcoholism and the ADA: The DOs and DON’Ts of Alcohol Testing in the Workplace

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended (ADA) considers alcoholism to be a “disability.” Individuals who suffer from alcoholism are entitled to the protections of the ADA just as those with significant mental illnesses or those confined to wheelchairs are. Thus, employers should be aware of certain legal issues, concerns, and prohibitions when questioning job applicants or employees about alcohol intake or when conducting alcohol testing.

Police Officer Fired for Crashing Cruiser While Drunk – Is He Protected by Disability Laws?

An Oregon police officer was arrested in January 2011 after crashing an unmarked police car into a ditch while off duty. The officer refused to submit to a breathalyzer or field sobriety test, but later pled guilty to driving under the influence. The arresting officer said the intoxicated officer was one of the ten most intoxicated people he had ever arrested. He was fired from the police force and is now suing, claiming he is an alcoholic and his termination amounts to disability discrimination.

Operating room nurse prohibited from working after drug rehab cannot support ADA failure to hire claim.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in a situation involving safety issues, a federal district court in Connecticut determined that an operating room nurse was not qualified for protection under the ADA because he was weeks away from the end of a year-long prohibition - imposed during drug rehab - against working in an operating room or around narcotics. Talmadge v. Stamford Hosp., D.Conn, No. 3:11-cv-01239, May 31, 2013. The more difficult issue, which received little attention from the court, was whether the nurse’s unsuccessful subsequent communications regarding employment after completion of the prohibition term could support an ADA claim.

Ninth Circuit Holds Medical Marijuana Use Not Protected Under the ADA

On May 21, 2012, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that because the use of medical marijuana remains illegal under federal law, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not protect against discrimination on the basis of medical marijuana use, even if that use is in accordance with state law explicitly authorizing such use. James v. City of Costa Mesa, No. 10-55769, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (May 21, 2012).
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