Employees who are not qualified for their jobs can’t claim ADA protection based on disability. And when a disabled employee has a position that’s covered by Department of Transportation (DOT) federal drug testing requirements and refuses a drug test, he’s automatically unqualified because DOT regulations require his suspension.
Recent case: Patrick worked as a city bus department transit manager. His job required him to perform safety-sensitive functions like controlling the dispatch and movement of vehicles. The job was covered by DOT drug-testing regulations. One day, the city ordered Patrick to report for a random drug screen by close of business.
Patrick didn’t show; he later claimed he forgot. He was immediately suspended and told to test again the following day. He was also told that he had to have a clear report from a substance abuse professional saying he could perform safety-sensitive functions, plus a clean drug screen, before returning to work. He eventually got both.
But then he sued, alleging that he had been discriminated against because of a disability.
The court tossed out Patrick’s case, noting that he wasn’t a qualified person with a disability since he had refused the drug test. A refusal, even if he had “forgotten” to show up, meant that under federal DOT regulations, he was barred from performing his job. That made him unqualified. (Leaumont v. City of Alexandria, No. 14-30330, 5th Cir., 2014)