Employers know to be wary of drug tests because they’re sometimes incorrect, falsely indicating that someone has been using illegal drugs. Now the Raleigh office of a national insurance giant has learned of another danger: Drug tests can trigger disability discrimination lawsuits.
The EEOC filed suit against the Chicago-based United Insurance Company of America after job applicant Craig Burns failed a pre-employment drug test and the company rescinded its job offer.
Burns is a recovering heroin addict who had been in a methadone maintenance program since 2004. Methadone is prescribed to prevent withdrawal symptoms in patients who were addicted to opiate drugs such as heroin.
The test revealed that methadone was the only drug in his system—and Burns provided United a letter from his treatment provider explaining why methadone would show up on his test results.
When United yanked its job offer anyway, Burns complained to the EEOC, alleging the company violated the ADA by refusing to hire him solely based on his status as a recovering drug addict.
Note: The ADA specifically protects recovering drug addicts. Employers discriminate against them at their peril.