Employers know to be wary of drug tests because they sometimes falsely show that someone has been using illegal drugs. Now Chicago-based United Insurance has learned of another danger: Drug tests can trigger disability discrimination lawsuits.
The EEOC is suing the company for disability discrimination, alleging it illegally rescinded a job offer to Craig Burns after he failed a pre-employment drug test.
Burns is a former drug 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 Burns’ system—and he provided 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. The EEOC’s lawsuit seeks back pay, plus compensatory and punitive damages.
Note: The ADA specifically protects recovering drug addicts. Employers discriminate against them at their peril.