November 25, 2020
No matter where you get your news, you will surely find a story about the opioid crisis that has plagued much of the United States. Previously, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a disability discrimination suit but settled with Foothills Child Development Center prior to what could have been an arduous and costly battle. EEOC v. Foothills Child Development Center, Inc., Civil Action No. 6:18-cv-01255-AMQ-KFM
Foothills is a corporation that operates a preschool in Easley, South Carolina who violated federal law when it terminated an employee, Leon Dabrowski, after he disclosed his participation in a supervised medication-assisted treatment program for a prior opiate addiction. Dabrowski was legally prescribed Suboxone as part of his treatment plan. Foothills terminated Dabrowski thirty minutes into his first work day shift due to his Suboxone1 use. Foothills did not conduct an individualized assessment to determine what effects, if any, Suboxone had on Dabrowski’s ability to perform his job duties. Now, along with a hefty settlement, the corporation will have to modify its drug use policy to include a clear and specific exclusion to the policy for individuals who use legally-obtained prescription medication in a lawfully-prescribed manner.
With similar disputes popping up across the nation, (see: EEOC v. M.G. Oil Co., No. 4:16-CV-04131-KES, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11941 (D.S.D. Jan. 25, 2018Bottom of Form) employers should review their hiring practices, including drug testing policies and heed the advice of the EEOC – pre-employment tests, including drug screening must be “job-related and consistent with business necessity.”
Referenced Sources: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Foothills Child Development Center Agrees to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Lawsuit (June 2018) https://www1.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/5-15-18.cfm?renderforprint=1
1 Suboxone contains a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine is an opioid medication, sometimes called a narcotic. Naloxone blocks the effects of opioid medication, including pain relief or feelings of well-being that can lead to opioid abuse. Suboxone is used to treat narcotic (opiate) addiction. Suboxone is not for use as a pain medication. For additional information, visit: https://www.drugs.com/suboxone.html
This information has been prepared by Validity Screening Solutions for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. The content is intended for general information purposes only, and you are urged to consult a lawyer concerning your own situation and any specific legal questions you may have.