The New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington will pay $146,000 to a class of applicants and employees because the hospital erroneously regarded them as disabled.
The hospital made a classic ADA mistake by denying employment to workers and applicants who take legally prescribed drugs. Applicants were turned away and employees were placed on leave once the hospital found they had been prescribed certain drugs. The employees and applicants filed an EEOC complaint alleging that violated the ADA because the hospital regarded them as being disabled when they were not.
When the EEOC was unable to mediate the dispute, it filed suit on behalf of the class and a trial was scheduled. That’s when the medical center elected to settle.
Under the settlement, class members will split the money. The medical center agreed to revise its alcohol and drug abuse policy, and modify its post-employment-offer medical assessment policy to comply with the ADA. It must also provide ADA training to its managers and supervisors.
Advice: Always monitor your drug-testing policies to ensure they comply with the ADA. Generally, any blanket prohibition against hiring based on a health issue runs counter to the ADA’s individualized assessment requirement. Always have an attorney review such policies.