The EEOC has sued U.S. Steel—with Minnesota operations in Hibbing, Ishpeming, Keewatin and Mountain Iron—because the company’s policy of randomly testing probationary employees for alcohol allegedly violates the ADA.
The suit arose from an incident in which probationary employee Abigail DeSimone failed a Breathalyzer test. She immediately told the nurse administering the test that she had consumed no alcohol for the past month and requested another testing method. The nurse refused.
DeSimone went to her own doctor and had blood drawn. That test came up clean. Her doctor faxed the results to U.S. Steel, but—citing its policy of terminating probationary employees who fail Breathalyzer tests—the company fired DeSimone.
That’s when DeSimone complained to the EEOC. The lawsuit claims U.S. Steel’s random testing policy runs afoul of the ADA by regarding probationary employees as disabled when they are not.
The EEOC maintains that employers may test for alcohol only “if the employer has reason to believe the employee would not be able to perform a job successfully or safely because of a medical condition or if the employer needs medical documentation to support an employee’s request for an accommodation.”
U.S. Steel uses the probationary employee testing program at many plants nationwide. In addition to seeking damages for DeSimone and other employees adversely affected by the testing, the lawsuit demands an injunction against random testing wherever U.S. Steel employs it.