The spread of state legalization of recreational and medical marijuana continues to create challenges for employers who seek to enforce drug-testing and drug-free workplace policies. Even in right-to-weed states that have enacted employment protections for lawful and off-duty marijuana use, employers are not required to permit employees to use marijuana
Articles Discussing Drugs & Alcohol Under The ADA
Severe immigration consequences for certain non-U.S. citizens remain despite President Joe Biden’s pardon of all prior federal offenses for simple marijuana possession.
On October 6, 2022, President Biden took a major step toward the decriminalization of marijuana, pardoning all prior federal offenses for simple marijuana possession. Although this pardon will
A federal court in Pennsylvania dismissed the legal claims asserted by a former employee who tested positive for marijuana on a random drug test and who attributed the test result to CBD use. Lehenky v. Toshiba America Energy Systems Corporation, No. 20-cv-4573 (E.D. PA. February 22, 2022).
The employee alleged
A Washington appellate court upheld a jury’s verdict that an employer’s drug testing protocol requiring direct observation of urine collections did not invade an employee’s privacy and did not constitute a constructive discharge. Ritchey v. Sound Recovery Centers, LLC, No. 53303-1-II (Wash. Ct. App. Oct. 20, 2020).
The employee, a
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), proposed scientific and technical guidelines for hair drug testing in federal workplace drug testing programs in the Federal Register on September 10, 2020. The proposed Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs
The Supreme Court of Ohio held that an at-will employee has no cause of action for common law invasion of privacy after the employer required the employee to submit to a directly-observed urine collection drug test. Lunsford v. Sterilite of Ohio, LLC, slip op. No. 2020-Ohio-4193 (August 26, 2020).
It is established that an employee’s drug addiction may qualify as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), provided the employee is not currently using illicit substances. In the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) Technical Assistance Manual on the Employment Provisions (Title I) of the Americans with
A federal court in New York dismissed a disability discrimination claim asserted under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) based on allegedly “excessive” drug and alcohol testing of employees after they failed drug or alcohol tests required under the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)’s regulations. Vuono, et al. v. Consolidated Edison of New York, Inc., Case No. 1:18-cv-016365-VEC (S.D.N.Y. June 11, 2019).
Last month, a Washington federal district court judge ordered an employer to pay a terminated employee a little over $1.8 million in damages for failing to accommodate the employee’s use of opioids that had been prescribed to treat her migraines, and for terminating her for a positive drug test result.1 Although employers typically have a right to implement and enforce clear drug-testing policies so as to maintain a safe and productive work environment, the decision underscores the importance of engaging in an interactive process with job applicants and employees and providing reasonable accommodations to those taking prescription drugs for medical conditions.
A federal court in Nevada dismissed a casino employee’s American with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) claims — even though he had been treated for substance abuse in the past — because he admitted to current drug use which is not protected under the ADA. Scott v. Harrah’s LLC, No. 2:17-cv-01066-APG-VCF (D. Nev. May 9, 2017).
Prescription drug abuse has made national news in the last few years. In March 2016, President Obama noted that “prescription opioid abuse and [the] heroin epidemic claims the lives of tens of thousands of Americans each year,” and that he was taking more steps to address the epidemic. He stated on Twitter that the “epidemic is harming too many Americans and their families,” but that “treatment works and recovery is possible.”1
An employer that terminated an employee based on its honest belief the employee violated its drug policy was entitled to summary judgment on the employee’s Americans with Disabilities Act claim, according to a Kentucky federal court. The court also granted summary judgment to the employer on the employee’s failure to accommodate and wrongful discharge claims. Adkins v. Excel Mining, LLC, 7:15-cv-00133-ART-EBA (E.D. Ky. Oct. 4, 2016).
A federal district court in the District of Columbia has allowed a bus mechanic to proceed with claims of disability discrimination and retaliation, after he was fired for using Adderall to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (“ADHD”). McFadden v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, CV-12-940 (D.D.C. September 2, 2016).
A federal court in Florida has upheld an employee’s termination due to her “inebriated” conduct that was caused by her use of prescription medications, holding that her discharge did not constitute disability discrimination. Caporicci v. Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc., Case No. 8-14-cv-2131-T-36EAJ (M.D. Fla. May 27, 2016).
It has long been clear that the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) protects alcoholism if it qualifies as a “disability.”1 That said, courts have consistently held that employers can have legitimate work rules that prohibit alcohol use in the workforce. However, the line between having a protected disability and engaging in unprotected misconduct while working can easily become blurred, and employers across all industries likely have struggled over this issue. The distinction is important because protected alcoholics may be entitled to reasonable accommodations under the ADA and state laws.